Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Kansas City badly damaged by morning fire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A two-alarm fire burned a historic Northeast Kansas City church early Thursday morning.

It started just after 2 a.m. at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church at 711 Benton Boulevard. A second fire alarm was called out as flames shot out of the roof. Fire crews were ordered out of the church twice as the fire spread.

Members of the congregation said a brief prayer inside of the soot-covered sanctuary Thursday morning

Investigators believe the fire started in the chapel and quickly spread into the roof. The sanctuary is a total loss.

The historic church was founded in 1922. It was started by German immigrants and has continued to evolve with the community.

Debbie Chancellor has been a member of the church for the last 50 years. She fought back tears as she described how the church has been with her family through several generations.

"It's devastating. My mom and dad lived here and they were members for all of their lives so for 50 years plus and they were put to rest here so it's difficult," she said.

The pulpit is almost unrecognizable to many church members. Bible pages and hymn books were sprawled through the aisles, torched.

"We're not going to be put down from this. We're going to go and we're going to move forward. That's what we're here to do and we have a mission and the good lord will help us do that mission."

Members of the congregation say the church is active and a staple in the community. They have a food pantry and collect clothing for the homeless.

The church's pastor, Rev. Bradley Zerkel, says Sunday services will be held at a neighboring education building that was not damaged in the fire.

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