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'Everything We Have Is On Hold Now' South Side Church Gutted By Fire

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Fire destroys a church on Chicago's far South Side.

But the Beacon Light Ministries wasn't just a place of worship.

CBS 2's Chris Tye has more what else was lost when its building burned down.

Beacon Light Ministries prides itself as a lifeline for those needing food and clothing. But as fire investigators dig into what happened, a larger question looms for those who lean on it every day.

Bishop Jerome Powell had just left his church to meet youth and parents at the Museum of Science and Industry.

"We were all on the expressway and I got the phone call," Powell said.

For 20 years, the church and Helping Hands Ministry, located in the building, was a source of food, clothing and school supplies for the less fortunate on the South Side.

Two decades of work burned up in a single afternoon.


"I don't know. I'm at a loss for words right now," Powell said.

Firefighters had a hard time accessing the building and trouble with one hydrant. But no one was inside and only one firefighter was hurt with minor injuries.

Beacon Light Ministries prides itself on being more than just words but action, helping a community, proving church isn't defined by four walls.

"We come out of the four walls that reach the people in the community," Powell said.

As the investigation remains fresh, so too are questions about what's next for the ministry, as a pastor with roots 20 years deep finds himself at a crossroads.

"Maybe not here, but I believe god," Powell said. "Everything we have is just on hold now."

The cause is still unclear. A GoFundMe site has been set up to help Beacon Light Ministries.


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