Out of the ashes: 2 Warwick churches form special bond after fire

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — For St. Benedict’s Church, there was no question they’d take in members of Woodbury Union Church after a fire forced them to board up and close last year. 

The fire happened last year, the day before Thanksgiving. Not missing a beat, St. Benedict’s opened its doors to Woodbury Union just days later for Sunday morning services, and they’ve been there ever since. 

“And it’s hard to share your space,” Woodbury Union Pastor T.J. DeMarco said. “I don’t think we’ve had any problems, we’ve just had a wonderful relationship.”

Woodbury Union has its own office operating out of St. Benedict’s. Though they worship at separate times, they’re still finding ways to work together. 

St. Benedict’s is hosting a benefit concert Sunday to help raise money for Woodbury Union’s rebuilding fund, which has been growing since last year. 

DeMarco says donations have come from all denominations. 

“We’ve had churches from around the country send us checks. St. Paul Evangelical, which is a Lutheran congregation, sent us a check for $19,000,” DeMarco said. “A former minister who helped out here at one point, Presbyterian pastor, has donated $20,000.” 

DeMarco adds donations have reached around $100,000 so far. 

“Those relationships have crossed denominational lines and really made us richer, and I hope that we continue those relationships moving forward,” DeMarco said.

Web Extra: Warwick Churches share history long before fire

DeMarco says while the parishes have become closer over the last 10 months, they learned there was a history between the two congregations decades ago when St. Benedict’s had a fire of its own.

A cross on St. Benedict’s was spared in the fire, and DeMarco says the church passed it on to Woodbury Union, which then placed it on the West Shore side of the church.

Last November, that same cross survived the fire at Woodbury Union.

Demarco says to his knowledge, back then, the two churches didn’t have the close relationship they do now. 

“We don’t know the story, exactly behind it, but we’re certainly thankful,” DeMarco said. 

Sunday’s benefit concert starts at 3 p.m. at St. Benedict’s Church on 135 Beach Ave. Admission is at least one non-perishable food item to go to St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry of St. Benedict’s, St. Kevin’s and Woodbury Union.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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