Spanish Christian Church was destroyed March 12 due to a deadly gas explosion in East Harlem. The congregation that had just celebrated its 80th anniversary last fall was housed in one of the two buildings demolished by the blast. The church was located on the ground floor of the five-story building.
Federal investigators report that at least eight people are dead and 70 others injured. The explosion left a total of 8 dead at 1644 and 1646 Park Ave., near East 116th St.
According to NY Daily News Thomas Perez, pastor of Spanish Christian church, said four members of his congregation are among the dead. They live in apartments above the church. He noted that one young man who had been married for only four months is still missing.
“I have no words to explain how I feel, but I know that everything is in God’s hands,” said Rev. Thomas Perez, standing in the shadow of the rubble at 1644 Park Ave. “I can’t explain it. I’m the pastor and they were my children. We’re praying now just for the Lord to keep us together.”
While the building may be gone, Perez proclaims, “We are going to keep on going.”
The Bronx News12 reports that Rev. William Devlin, a pastor of the Infinity Bible Church in the South Bronx, is heading efforts to raise funds to try and rebuild the church.
"They're broken," Devlin said. "They either lost all of their possessions or they've lost a loved one, so we want to come today from the Bronx just to let them know that pastors in the Bronx are here for them and we are with them and we will do whatever we can to help them."
Devlin maintains that Spanish Christian Church has played a critical role in meeting the needs of community over the decades of its existence.
“Now they’re in the opposite position,” Devlin said. “They’re in a place for need.”