DENVER (CBS4) – Congregants of the Odom Memorial Church of God in Christ are hoping to rebuild after a fire swept through their building. The church has been a longstanding pillar of the community, offering worship services, as well as outreach programs, and services to many in the Cole neighborhood.

“We came back in last Sunday for our first worship service then this happens,” AJ McDonald, an assistant pastor at the church said.

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Easter Service was the first one members were allowed to attend in-person, after the church closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. McDonald’s brother was the one who told him to turn on the TV and see the church burning around 7 Thursday morning.

“He says it’s on the news so I jumped up and turned on the news and there it was it was. Such a jarring feeling,” he said.

McDonald’s family took over ministry at the church in 1983, but the building has been around since 1933.

“Really sad just knowing how important the building is for the community,” Alana Miller, a neighbor who lived across the street said.

The building was once known as the Uptown Theater, today as a church, it has become known for its “Drug bust Ministries,” a program to help people get back on their feet.

“It was kind of a safe haven for people to come in talk about their addictions and issues,” McDonald explained.

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Much of that was in the upper levels of the church which was unfortunately scorched by the flames. The sanctuary where worshippers gathered suffered lighter damage, mainly smoke and water.

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“We’re just going to rebuild, that’s all we can do. We cry, we let the tears roll down, then we roll up our sleeves and get to work,” McDonald added.

It will take time, but they plan to come back even stronger. A GoFundMe page has been set-up to help the church rebuild as well as continue outreach programs.

Jacqueline Quynh