Windsor

Parishioners hold emotional Sunday service outside of burned-out church in Windsor

Dozens of parishioners held an emotional Sunday service outside on the grass, next to their burned-out church with memories of the week-old blaze still fresh in their minds.

'The walls are still standing and so are we,' said Lynda Perry, the pastor's wife.

Arnie Suryawan, left, and Miriam Suryawan, right, watch Pastor Tom Perry during Sunday service on November 3, 2019. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Dozens of parishioners held an emotional Sunday service outside on the grass, next to their burned-out church, with memories of the week-old blaze still fresh in their minds.

Fire caused the roof to collapse on the 107-year-old Walkerville Evangelical Baptist Church on Oct. 27. Everyone escaped without injury.

"The walls are still standing and so are we," said Lynda Perry, the pastor's wife.

For the first time since a fire destroyed Walkerville Evangelical Baptist Church, parishioners come back for an emotional Sunday service. 1:32

Sunday was the first time everyone has been back to the church for a formal service, together.

"It's kind of overwhelming," said Miriam Suryawan, holding back tears. "It's so hard to see a place that we lead worship every single Sunday [like this.] So much history, so much sentimental value. We know that God is good, but it's kind of heavy on the heart to feel and see all of this."

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      Windsor fire investigators determined the blaze was accidental and caused $1 million in damage. Even though the church is structurally unstable, many feel the congregation is still strong.

      "We don't forsake the coming together," said Jairie Ferasol. "We find strength in that. Having all these people here, that's what it's all about. And without them I don't know where any of us individually would be."

      Ferasol has been attending this church for 20 years. He recalls when his parents renewed their wedding vows inside for their 25th and 50th anniversaries.

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          It's unclear what will happen next, but pastor Tom Perry hopes to rebuild at the Windermere Road location.

          "It's pretty horrific inside," said Perry, who was allowed back in briefly.

          Next weekend, the Riverside Baptist Church is allowing them to use the building for Sunday service.

          "We're just so grateful for all the love in the community," said Perry.

          About the Author

          Jason Viau is a video journalist, TV host and radio newsreader at CBC Windsor. He was born in North Bay, but has lived in Windsor for most of his life. Since graduating from St. Clair College, he's worked in print, TV and radio. Email him at jason.viau@cbc.ca

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