One year after fire, base structure back up for Warwick church

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been a long road for Woodbury Union Church in the year since it was destroyed by fire.

The day before Thanksgiving 2018, the fire sparked outside, climbed the building and spread to the attic.

“It was just heartbreaking,” Pastor T.J. DeMarco said Friday. “A lot of people…their families have been here for generations.”

Now, almost a year later, the walls are up for an entirely new structure as the church rebuilds from scratch – proof of the congregation’s resolve as well as support from different communities.

DeMarco stood along Beach Avenue the night the centuries-old building burned down. When the dust settled, efforts to pick up the pieces ramped up: fundraisers were held throughout the year and parishioners created a rebuilding committee to push forward.

“We’ve never done this before, so we were doing the best we could to keep it going as quickly as possible,” DeMarco said.

In the interim, worship and fellowship has continued for the nearly 100 members of the Woodbury congregation, thanks to St. Benedict’s Church down the street, which offered space at no cost.

Donations have come in for the rebuilding campaign from many venues, including other churches around the country. That and insurance will hopefully cover the roughly $1.5 million the rebuilding project will require.

DeMarco said he hopes the new church is completed by next spring.

On Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving 2019, the Woodbury Union and St. Benedict’s congregations will hold a joint prayer service marking a year since the fire.

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