Portsmouth church picks up the pieces one year later after lightning destroys everything

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A charred church with bricks crumbled down in the middle as a burned roof barely sits on top. News 3 was there to witness the aftermath one year ago when Mt. Sinai Family Christian Life Center was struck by a bolt of lightning.

“Lightning came and struck it and just burned it up. We weren’t able to recoup anything. We lost everything. All of our memories and all of our possessions. It was just a very traumatic time," said Pastor Ronald Thompson.

An empty lot is now all that’s left of a church that once stood for an entire century, but one year later its members say they’re now stronger than ever.

“When they say love conquers all, it really, really does. We have seen the power of love, the power of unity, and the power of being connected and the power of relationship," saidRhonda Alexander.

Hurting then, but healing now - Pastor Thompson says he and his congregation have temporarily been coming together and having Sunday service at Charles Fisher Memorial Academy in Portsmouth.

The church says they’re beyond grateful for the outpouring of support and love from the community they’ve received over the course of this year, but say there is still a lot of work and questions to answer, including where the church will relocate.

“We’ve learned that to rebuild that property where it stands is about $1.6 million. So, we still have some choices to make and some decisions to make. In all of that, we are still trying to recover financially," said Alexander.

Not quite where they want to be, Mt. Sinai family says they’re looking at the devastating loss as an opportunity rather than a disaster.

“We still have a fighting spirit. We’re winning victories and making progress. I’m optimistic," said Pastor Thompson.

The church is still accepting donations online and via mail at PO Box 1362 Portsmouth, Virginia 23705.

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Lightning strike to blame for fire that destroyed Portsmouth church