ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s been almost seven months since a fire erupted on Christmas night, devastating a historic church on Rochester’s Jefferson Avenue. Church members never stopped worshipping, but had to shift online. That is, until last weekend when services returned in-person at a new location.
Church leaders describe the last several months as emotionally challenging, but haven’t allowed what happened in December to interrupt their faith.
Now, they’re settling into a temporary space for worship.
“To see it go up in flames really hurt the heart of the church members who had either been worshipping there for the entire time or who came up in that church,” said Marquis D. Johns, an ordained minister at Jefferson Ave. Seventh Day Adventist Church.
The church community founded on nearly two centuries is moving forward after a massive fire swept through last Christmas, causing extensive damage to the structure on Jefferson Avenue.
For the first time in more than 6 months, members have a new place to gather downtown at the Temple Building off Liberty Pole Way. Services began there last weekend.
“We wanted to do something together as a church, as a denomination, to again breathe some life and breathe some hope into Jefferson Ave. and into Rochester,” said Johns.
Church leaders say their goal is to eventually rebuild and move back to Jefferson Ave. However, they say it will still take some time.
In the meantime, the community is focused on the opportunities ahead while continuing to rely on its faith.
“And, just as much as God planned to see us through the pandemic, He’s planned to be here with us as we worship on the other side of it,” said Johns.
The church will continue its services at the Temple Building four nights a week, including weekends, through mid-August.
Plans to move to a more permanent location are in the works, as the community looks to begin rebuilding back on Jefferson Avenue.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.