Rochester church community holds vigil after Christmas fire

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The congregation of the Jefferson Ave. Seventh-Day Adventists Church met outside what’s left of their house of worship to hold a vigil after a major fire on Christmas Day.  

After most of the structure was damaged the congregation was joined by regional SDA conference leaders, other pastors and city leaders to pray. The faith and goodwill shared, only helped this church community to grow stronger.

“The Church is not within the four walls. This is the Church,” Pastor Hanson Drysdale preached to the congregation.  

Less than 24 hours after, the SDA Church is keeping its eyes forward to continue serving God.  

“I am just looking at the building and looking at the future,” Pastor Drysdale continued. “Just envisioning what God is about to do. Because I’ve always said that nothing takes God by surprise, and he knew about this way in advance. So, we know that we are in good hands.”  

Operating at this location for more than 60 years, the memories are endless to people in and outside the congregation. Giving many in the community motivation to come to the church’s aid, after all, it did for them.  

“As a kid, I was in daycare here,” Rochester City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot said. “This church has had a tremendous impact on my family and this community.”  

“Some persons got dedicated in this Temple,” Pastor Drysdale remembered. “They met their spouses, they were baptized, they had family members that have their funeral here.”  

Leaders with the Northeastern Conference of Seventh Day Adventist flew in to join the vigil this afternoon, promising the church would build a new place of worship and communicating offers to use other church spaces in the meantime.

“We already got support from some of our brother’s ministries who have allowed us to at least talk with them about renting their quarters,” Northeastern Conference President Abraham Jules told us. “To have a place to worship and that’s a very important thing.”  

Rochester firefighters are also still in contact with the church leaders and at this time there is no update in the investigation as it continues over what caused this fire.

A GoFundMe Page has also been started by Pastor Hanson Drysdale to raise funds to help rebuild the Church, with the goal of reaching $250,000 eventually.

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