By Alice Gainer

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The roof of a nearly century-old church in Newark has collapsed after this week’s winter storm.

“We were devastated yesterday at 12 o’clock when I got the call that the church had fallen,” said Wilburt Austin, chairman of the trustee board at Shiloh Baptist Church.

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The roof of a nearly century-old church in Newark collapsed after a winter storm in February 2021. (Credit: CBS2)

The church on Davenport Avenue was established in 1926.

Frank Biondo owns the laundromat on the corner.

“Every Sunday was like Christmas Day, the way the people dressed so nice and everybody say hello Frank, good morning,” he said. “I tell you I was crying because thank god nobody got hurt.”

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The congregation of about 300 hasn’t been in the church since last March.

The pastor says work was about to get started on the house of worship.

CBS2’s Alice Gainer spoke with him by phone.

“There was a wall on left-hand side that was in need of repair, but that was not in connection,” Pastor Malachia Brantley, Jr. said.

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The roof of a nearly century-old church in Newark collapsed after a winter storm in February 2021. (Credit: CBS2)

More than a foot and a half of snow fell in Newark this week. The church thinks that did it.

The city says the cause will be determined by the Newark engineering department.

In the meantime, he people in the buildings on either side have been evacuated for now.

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Years of services — the pews, valuable stained glass windows on the sides — all crushed.

But not their spirit.

“A building can be repaired, but lives can’t be replaced,” Austin said. “We’ll rebuild. We’ll rebuild.”

Services continue two doors down at the youth center.

A church member says part of the ceiling was replaced two years ago.

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Alice Gainer