SPRINGFIELD GARDENS, N.Y. – A community’s spirit remains strong after a fire destroyed a Queens church that was built in the early 1900s, CBS 2’s John Metaxas reports.
Flames left the St. Mary Magdalene Church in ruins on Saturday morning in Springfield Gardens, Queens.
The wooden frame to the building and its wooden pews provided plenty to burn as the fire tore through the church overnight, only leaving its memories behind for its parishioners.
“I’m so upset. I’ve been coming here 40 years. I sang in the choir,” Sandra Chase said.
The loss left Tene Taylor speechless.
“I don’t know what to say. The church has been here since I’ve been born,” Taylor said.
Despite the valiant efforts of about 100 firefighters from 20 units, it took just a couple of hours for the flames to consume the structure.
Only a few stained glass windows remained intact.
The fire also destroyed one of the church’s most cherished possessions—a unique statue of the risen Christ behind the altar.
“I heard the risen Christ was burned. It was a black Jesus. A full life size. It was very unique to this church,” Chase said.
The church has tended the neighborhood for nearly a hundred years, and those in the predominantly African and Caribbean-American community took solace in the fact that no one was hurt.
“We do realize it was only a building. We are the church. We will continue to worship,” Sister Mary Ellen Kane said.
The parishioners agreed. The church will endure.
“We’re going to be here. We’re going to be here. Somehow,” Chase said.
The building may be gone, but the community here is intact, and they’re vowing to rebuild.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.