Church Members Heal After Devastating Fire

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by Allison Brown, Fox 8 Reporter

NORTON, Ohio -- It is a new beginning for members of a church in Norton who lost their house of worship because of a fire earlier this week.

Despite the tragedy, they are trusting in a higher power to help them rebuild.

Sunday night, Father's House Church members saw the kindness of strangers.  The pastor at Grace Brethren invited the congregation to use their church on Cleveland Massillon Rd., about 10 minutes away.

"It's kind of a serene thing, you know that you know that God is going to work this out for the good," said Jim Zinna, who has been a member of Father's House for about 10 years.

The loss has been tough for church-goers, but also for Pastor Mike Guarnieri.  He says after 16 years at the location on Wadsworth Rd., you build so much and it's horrible to see it burn away.

"It was really hard, there were people hugging, crying with each other, praying with one another," said Pastor Guarnieri.

Norton Firefighters were not able to battle the flames easily on Wednesday night because of staffing cuts.  The Norton Fire Chief tells Fox 8 it took crews about 10 minutes to get the first engine on scene because of their situation.  A fire levy is currently on the ballot that would restore services.

"That fire was easily stoppable, I could have put it out with a garden hose when I got there if I had one," said the pastor. 

"I’m just hoping and praying that people will think about the ramifications on the community when they vote, a lot of times people think how will this affect me personally, I'll have to pay another $140.00 in property taxes," he went on.

With song and prayer on Sunday night, the group started the process of healing, with hope.  They are truly grateful no one was seriously injured in the fire.  They are also grateful that people in the community are taking care of them in a time of need. 

"It goes to show that the love of God passes all understanding," said Lee Hance, Associate Pastor at Father's House.

"It's not as if you can say, ok we're going to climb this hill real quick, it's labor, and it's always been laboring and that's what we're supposed to be doing," said Goldie Hance, a church member.

Father's House has 50 to 75 members.

Fire officials still haven't released an official cause of the fire.

For more on the fire, click here.