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Members of Mount Christian Worship Center gather outside the church after the fire was extinguished. Submitted photo.

Fire ravages historic Midtown Kansas City church

A century-old church in midtown Kansas City caught fire early Wednesday morning and suffered extensive damage.

“I’m lost for words,” Pastor Willie Thornton of Mount Christian Worship Center says. “I really am. My heart hurts for the church parishioners.”

The church had just paid off its mortgage in May.

Thornton said he received a call around 5 a.m. “He said the church was on fire, and I said, ‘What?’ he said. “I jumped up and put my clothes on. The fire department was here putting out the fire.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The Kansas City Fire Department’s fire marshal division, as well as the department’s bomb and arson unit, have concluded their investigation. They have deemed the cause of the fire undetermined. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives will now further investigate what happened as a matter of policy.

The church, whose congregation was founded in 1878, had received two alerts of someone trying to enter the church before the fire.

“There was an alarm they said was at the kitchen door, then one at the front door,” Thornton said.

Although it hurts to see his house of worship destroyed, Pastor Thornton said he doesn’t want to focus on the building or the property but on the community. “We partner with Neighbor2Neighbor,” he said. “We feed between 2,700 to 3,000 plates a month. My heart hurts, because we have to pause that feeding.”

“I come here a couple of times to eat,” a community neighbor said. “The pastor has always been good to us.”.

Because of the amount of damage and how old the church is, Thornton doesn’t know how long or how much money it will take to rebuild and restore it. “I hope people drive by here, they see that this place is going to be rebuilt,” he said. “When they drive by here, they see we’re still here at 3551 Wabash to make a difference in this community.”

Thornton said the church will be holding services at 6 p.m. Thursday at the St. Mark Child and Family Development Center at 2008 E. 12 Street in Kansas City.

At a prayer vigil, members were hopeful and placing their faith in God for the future.

“God will provide,” said church member Debbie Beecham. “This is just gonna make us stronger.”

If you would like to donate to the outreach effort:

PO Box 32914,
Kansas City, MO  64171

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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