The historic Victory Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California, was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours on Sunday.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the church – which was a historical landmark of Black history, having hosted civil rights activists and Gospel singers over the years – caught fire around 2:30 am on Sunday.
According to Nicholas Prange, a spokesperson for the LA fire department, firefighters worked for two hours to extinguish the blaze. At least 16 companies responded to the fire. Two firefighters were injured during the fight, including one who became trapped under a collapsed ceiling and walls. Both firefighters were taken to the hospital and treated for their injuries, the Associated Press reports.
The LAFD has also launched an arson investigation into the fire.
The destruction of the historic church has rocked many members of the Black community in LA.
“This is a terrible loss. It is hard to process, given the church’s role in Los Angeles, especially for African Americans who moved here during the Great Migration of the 1940s,” historian Tyree Boyd-Pates said. Boyd-Pates helped curate a gospel music exhibition at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibition included information about Victory Baptist Church.
“I learned about being Black, being proud, about the importance of education here,” attorney Donald Hambrick said in a statement as he stood before the burned-down church. “I learned how to dream.”
Congregant Pat Smith asserted that “a piece of history burned today.” Smith added, “This was part of our lives.”
According to the LA Times, Victory Baptist Church – founded in the 1940s – has long “provided a valuable stage for spiritual and political developments of South Los Angeles.”
“The building is destroyed, but the church still lives,” Victory Pastor W. Edward Jenkins said. “The church is not dead. The church is doing fine. The building is in ruins, but we are going to rebuild.”
Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash/Andy Watkins
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.