Local/State

Fire destroys historic Cape May Co. church

Friday, June 10, 2011
Fire destroys South Seaville United Methodist Church Fire destroys South Seaville United Methodist Church

A Cape May County church, built in the 1800s, was destroyed by fire early Friday morning.

The fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. in the South Seaville United Methodist Church, located in the 100 block of Corsons Tavern Road in Dennis Township.

Multiple fire companies were called into fight the blaze, but the 125-year-old building is a total loss.

It is especially devastating for the fire chief who attends the church.

"This is emotional. This is my church, my wife grew up in this church, my kids were baptized, we were married here, I know all the congregation," said Chief Joseph Gurdgiel, Jr. of the Ocean View Fire Department.

The pastor and congregation were overcome by emotion as they watched the firemen. They were trying to renovate the church, put in new pews and paint the walls...they had a wedding planned.

Pastor Thomas Perry, or "Pastor Tom" as he is known, is asking for prayers and vows the congregation will come back.

"This congregation is the most awesome congregation in the world," said Perry.

There are no reports of injuries and no word yet on a definite cause. Investigators say they have ruled out both lightning and arson as possible causes.

Though the building was destroyed, congregants were able to salvage the church's bell from the rubble.

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new jersey, cape may county, fire, local/state
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