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Congregation of historic church destroyed by fire rose up during powerful Sunday Service

Members of the Gabriel Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church gathered for Sunday service after the church was destroyed by a fire.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — It was an image best described by one word: resilience.

Although a lightning strike sparked a fire and destroyed the Gabriel Chapel A.M.E Zion Church Friday, worship continued on Sunday.

Members of the church, the Kings Riders and Buffalo Soldier Riders gathered for Sunday Service in the church parking lot.

The words of Senior Pastor Sandi Brandon-Hutchinson lifted up the members of her church.  

“The ashes look dry. Some people say it looks like a funeral,” said Brandon-Hutchinson.

“It looks like we cremated the church. But, I want you to know that these bones shall live again. That from the ashes, we’re gonna live again.”

All around her, there was praise and applause.  

Those who showed up Sunday consider the 154-year-old church a cornerstone of the community. That’s why bike riders showed up by the dozens. They planned the service overnight.

On Friday, the fire forced the bell tower to tumble down, but the Chesapeake Fire Dept. and members of the church saved the church bell. They were also able to save what was left of the stained glass window.

From that, they will rebuild.

“We really want to make sure that when we rebuild in faith, we build and hold onto the legacy and history that was built 154 years ago by the hands of slaves,” said Brandon-Hutchinson.

The historic church was destroyed, but days later, the faith of its congregants is very much alive.

If you'd like to help the church's efforts to rebuild, you can donate here.