‘The church is strong.’ Pastor says they will rebuild Burlington County church destroyed by fire

The remains of Fountain of Life Center in Florence Township were still smoldering 12 hours after the fire began.

Matt Trapani and Jim Murdoch

Mar 21, 2023, 11:24 AM

Updated 487 days ago

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A fire destroyed a beloved church in Burlington County Monday evening.
The remains of Fountain of Life Center in Florence Township were still smoldering 12 hours after the fire began. Officials say that it may be some time before the exact cause of the fire is known.
Pastor Russ Hodgins says 1,000 worshippers would attend services at the church on any given weekend. He says that he remains resilient and promises to rebuild.
“The church is strong. I’ve said it a couple of other times. This is brick and mortar. We loved it. I don’t mean to minimize it, but the church is really the body of believers. The church is the people, but we will rebuild another house of worship,” Hodgins says.
Hodgins says smoke was first seen by the principal of the attached school around 6 p.m. The alarms went off and alerted the few people left in the church and school - who all made it out safely. Flames shot through the roof as the fire went to eight alarms. Crews from all over Burlington County came to fight the fire. Calm winds and the massive presence of firefighters kept the flames from spreading to other buildings.
What remained of the church by the morning was just a shell of what so many people called their house of worship - even more who visited for the center's well-known Christmas and Easter plays. Fire crews stood at the ready to douse any flare-ups as smoke and flames continued to take out what was left.
“They worked hard to save the school. We are incredibly grateful for the effort…If it wasn't for their professionalism, we would have lost it. We would have lost it all,” Hodgins says.
Hodgins says he will hold services this weekend as scheduled inside the family life center - a building not affected by the fire. He also says the Easter season is the time of rebirth and that they are going to look at this as a time of rebirth for the church.


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