An extra-alarm blaze tore through a church in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side this morning, but there were no reports of injuries.
The 3-11 alarm fire broke out at the Love, Faith and Praise Church of God in Christ, 6948 S. Stewart Ave., at West 70th Street, around 4 a.m. Flames were shooting through the roof when firefighters arrived, according to the Fire Department.
Responding crews surrounded the building and fought the fire from the outside because of concerns the walls or roof might collapse. The fire appeared under control as of 5 a.m.
Nearly 200 firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene, according to Fire Department spokesman Sean Flynn. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
The pastor of the church, 61-year-old Ronald Richardson, broke into tears as he watched the fire and didn’t want to talk to reporters. Much of the north face of the church was damaged, and two stained glass windows were shattered.
The pastor’s daughter, Patrice Richardson-Bolden, said the church had recently installed a new roof and had renovated the sanctuary and added new doors.
Latunda Cobbins, 35, said the pastor is a great supporter of his community.
“I’ve been a member of the church for like six months now. I just got back into church. But I’ve been knowing the pastor for a long time,” she said, wiping tears from her face. “Whatever you need him to do, he’s here for the community.”
The church formerly was the Normal Park Baptist Church, according to neighborhood residents and Tribune archives.