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LORAIN, Ohio — Sunday services were still held just days after fire destroyed a church in Lorain.

An open field on Washington Avenue served as the place of worship for members of the First Lutheran Church.

A fire early Thursday morning gutted the church.

“The church was here today. The church isn’t over there. That’s strictly our residence. But, the church was here and the church is vital,” church member Brad Hoffman said.

More than 400 people gathered to pray, a testament to the faith of this congregation.

“When you see this, you know that there is hope, and there’s love and we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing,” said church member Yolanda Arimont-Bartlett.

For the past 90 years, First Lutheran Church has been known for helping others; now it is in need itself. Senator Sherrod Brown, a former member of the First Lutheran Church, said this is a time when people come together.

“But, I think this is church has always stood supporting others in the community and that’s what worshiping God is about. You help others; others help you to have that sense of community,” he said.

Sunday’s service was the first step in a rebuilding process — spiritually and of the structure. The congregation is hopeful to one day return to its church. A rebuilding fund has been set up.

“Insurance doesn’t ever quite cover everything. Replacement costs don’t always cover what you thought. I’m sure that the money will be needed and well used,” said Pastor Jimmy Madsen.

Donations can be mailed to: First Lutheran Church Rebuilding Fund, 603 Washington Ave., Lorain, Ohio, 44052.

Madsen said services will resume next week across the street inside Admiral King Elementary School.

Sunday school will be at 9 a.m., and church services at 10 a.m.

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