Officials are trying to determine what caused a fire early Friday that destroyed a historic Black church in northeast Florida.
Clay County Fire Rescue tweeted that no one was injured in the fire that started around 11 p.m. Thursday at St. Simon Baptist Church in Orange Park.
“It’s a setback,” Moyenda Ambakise, an assistant to the church's pastor, told First Coast News on Friday morning. “It doesn’t stop anything. The church will keep on moving."
The church has about 145 members, Ambakisye said.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, the church had not been actively used, but was undergoing renovation to add a fellowship hall.
“It’s a pain that is hard to describe,” Ambakisye said. “We’ve had our share of challenges over the years, but this by far has been the greatest by far, the most devastating. It’s a test of our faith and just how good our God is because no doubt about it we’ll come out of this.”
The State Fire Marshal's office, along with Orange Park police and the Clay County Sheriff's Office are investigating.