Glen Burnie Church to rebuild after fire Grieving members gather for worship, reaffirm their faith

March 17, 1997|By Kristina M. Schurr | Kristina M. Schurr,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Members of the congregation of Glen Burnie's Community Church of God have vowed to rebuild their church, which was severely damaged in a four-alarm fire Saturday night.

"We're just going to finish tearing it down and start building it back up," Angela Hansel of Pasadena said yesterday morning as she walked across the church lawn, strewn with broken bricks, glass shards, shingles and twisted metal rods that once supported the roof.

The fire, which began between 8: 30 p.m. and 9 p.m., burned about 75 percent of the 13-year-old building on Fifth Street S.E. in less than an hour, said Lt. Robert Kornmann, spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. He said the cause is under investigation.

Neither Kornmann nor the church's co-minister, the Rev. W. David Harness, knew how much it would cost to rebuild.

About 50 congregants met yesterday behind the only intact wall, placing their hands along it as Harness prayed.

"The cross is still here. The church is still here. The church is not a building, the church is us. The cross is not just about tragedy, but also about victory. Even in the midst of death, there can be life," Harness said.

He said the fire won't deter him or the congregation from continuing their ministry. "We still have a responsibility to function as a church, to care for one another and to serve the community we're in."

He added: "We have to rededicate ourselves to being the body of Christ, to being the church, regardless of whether we have a building we can call ours."

"I'm so sad," cried Hazel Schmidt of Millersville as she hugged the Rev. Beth McCracken Harness, who is co-minister with her husband.

"What hurts the most is all the work we've put into the church," said Schmidt, who helped found the church in 1962.

Schmidt and her brother, Ed Mauler of Ferndale, used to belong to a Church of God in Baltimore but wanted to form one where they lived.

So they met with eight other people in Mauler's basement before their congregation grew and built the church. The congregation is one of 10 Churches of God in the Baltimore area, Harness said.

The congregation held a more traditional service later yesterday at the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Aquahart Road.

Schmidt, who could not attend the later service, lingered in front of the burned church.

"I felt really good when Reverend Harness said we are the church. It brings everyone closer to God. It's the people who stay together," she said.

Between her thumb and index finger, she held a burned page from a Bible that had blown across the lawn -- a memento of her church as it was before the fire.

Pub Date: 3/17/97

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