CHICAGO (CBS)– The Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Washington Park was destroyed in a fire overnight.
“We’ve been up for 56 years. My father’s been a pastor 32 years of his life. This is all he know and sacrifice for,” said Herbert Pennington Jr., the son of the church’s pastor. “This is devastating to my family. This is all we got.”
Pennington said, for years, the church has helped many people in the Washington Park neighborhood, but now it’s all gone.
Firefighters arrived on the scene at 59th and State streets around 3 a.m. Thursday. The church is located around the corner from a firehouse.
— Yasmeen Hassan (@YasmeenTV) November 14, 2019
Fire Department officials the first crews on the scene saw light smoke coming from the building, but once they got inside, they realized it was much worse, and the fire was spreading quickly.
Large flames and heavy smoke shot through the roof of the church as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze.
Update on still and box onl 5847 S State no injuries all companies working pic.twitter.com/NZ1BUwbnKZ
— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) November 14, 2019
The fire was extinguished by about 4:15 a.m., but the blaze had caused the building’s roof to cave in, leaving the church little more than a pile of rubble.
Pastor H.L. Pennington said the church was supposed to hold a bible study Wednesday night, but plans changed at the last minute.
“Don’t nothing happen without the Lord knowing about it,” he said.
His son said the fire might have started because he forgot to turn off the furnace after bible study was cancelled, but fire officials said the cause has not yet been determined.
“There were some initial reports that there was some furnace issues in there, but it’s all under investigation right now. I can’t speculate about that right now,” Battalion Chief Chris Wagner said.
Even though it was a great loss, Pastor Pennington said he’s still counting his blessings.
“Nobody got hurt. It’s just a building, and we’ll be able to go forward from here,” he said.
The family said the church building was not insured, but they’re holding out hope they can rebuild in some way.
“I feel bad about the sanctuary, and where we come to worship, but I still believe that God don’t let nothing happen unless there’s a reason behind it,” Pastor Pennington said.