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Church hit by fire lacked insurance; space for services found

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    The Iglesia Del Dios Viva in Lorain was destroyed by fire Saturday.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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    A look into the burned-out remains of Iglesia Del Dios Viva Church at West 17th Street and Reid Avenue in Lorain. The church was destroyed by a fire Saturday.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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    A look at the bell inside the belltower of Iglesia Del Dios Viva Church the former Zion Church at West 17th Street and Reid Avenue in Lorain. The church was destroyed by a fire Saturday.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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LORAIN — First Lutheran Church of Lorain will host Iglesia Del Dios Vivo’s congregation Sunday, after the Spanish-language church at 1714 Reid Ave. was destroyed by fire Saturday.

Lorain Fire Department responded to a call at 10:22 a.m., finding the church fully engulfed, Chief Matt Homolya said.

The fire destroyed the building, leaving parishioners without a place to worship Sunday. While they had received some invitations to other services, Iglesia Del Dios Vivo Pastor Noemi Colon said many of her parishioners do not speak English, meaning a service would have to be available in Spanish.

She said the church was not insured.

“We lost everything on the inside and outside,” Colon said.

Monday afternoon, First Lutheran Church’s pastor, the Rev. Rosalina Rivera, confirmed arrangements were being made for Colon to give Sunday services for the displaced congregation at First Lutheran Church, 1019 W. Fifth St.

First Lutheran Church’s original chapel, a 90-year-old church at 603 Washington Ave., was destroyed by fire Aug. 28, 2014. The State Fire Marshal found evidence that someone had broken into the church, intentionally setting the fire that burned through the church sanctuary, destroying stained-glass windows and a pipe organ valued at $1 million.

With community members opening their doors and pocketbooks to First Lutheran Church’s congregation in its time of need, Rivera said, its parishioners were spurred to do the same for Iglesia Del Dios Vivo, or Church of the Living God.

“My congregation knows what it means to lose a building,” Rivera said. “A lot of our parishioners were really emotional Sunday. And I was really proud that everyone wanted to help.”

The Lorain County Auditor lists First Spanish Evangelical as the owner of Iglesia Del Dios Vivo, though Colon said she is the owner of the building. Value of the land and building are listed at just over $67,000.

Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Fenn said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but lamented the loss of the historic structure.

“It’s really a shame,” Fenn said. “Those buildings are built so well. New buildings are disposable. “

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.


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