FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A community is coming together in the midst of tragedy in Florence after a church was burned to the ground just hours before Sunday service.
“We’re a small group and some of them have died because they were older than me,” said Gilberto Ramos, a member of the New Life Assembly Church of God for the last three years.
He said he was deeply saddened when he went by the Pine Street church on Sunday and learned the news about what had happened.
“I was thinking about it and I said I need to go over there and see what happened and what are we going to do,” Ramos said.
WMBF News, reached out to the pastor of the church and he said he will release more information later this week.
Police said the fire started early Sunday morning. It burned for two-and-a-half hours before four different fire departments were able to bring it under control.
“They are investigating and trying to determine the cause. And once they are done with that investigation, they will proceed with all the information they have gathered,” said Maj. Carlos Raines, with the Florence Police Department.
While SLED and the ATF assist Florence police with the investigation, neighboring churches are sending their prayers and said they are willing to help.
“We are saddened by the fact that church house has burned down, but as I was saying earlier that was the physical structure. Those of us a part of the body of faith ,we believe indeed that church is made up of a community of believers,” said Revered Norman Gamble, with New Ebeneezer Baptist Church.
Gamble said he and the members of his church plan to support the congregation just around the corner.
“I said to my congregation on last evening, we will do what we have done with most of the churches in this area that had tragedy to happen. We will take up a collection sometime soon and let them know we share in their grief,” Gamble said.
As for Ramos, he said he will pray and wait to see what direction his church leadership takes.
“I just love this church. I love the people and that’s why I love the church,” Ramos said.