WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Months after a fire destroyed a Warwick church, the reconstruction process is finally getting underway.
Flames engulfed the historic Woodbury Union Church on Beach Avenue the night before Thanksgiving last year, causing significant damage to the building.
“It’s a shame to see it all go to waste like that,” Pastor TJ DeMarco said.
The past few months have been emotionally exhausting for DeMarco but he said he’s trying to focus on the brighter days ahead for his congregation.
“We’ve learned we don’t need a church to have a congregation,” he said.
As the congregation works to rebuild, the nearby St. Benedict Catholic Church has allowed Woodbury parishioners to worship in their building at no cost.
“It’s about friendships, community,” DeMarco said. “We can be anywhere.”
The remains of the original church will soon be demolished, which will allow them to build a new church on the property.
If all goes according to plan, DeMarco said the demolition will be complete by the end of July.
A 12-person committee is now working to decide what can be salvaged from the building before it is knocked down.
“We’re trying to save as much stuff as we can,” DeMarco said. “The organ, some of the chairs, benches, books.”
In total, the reconstruction project will cost approximately $1.5 million, which DeMarco said will be fully covered by their insurance and community donations.
DeMarco said he has high hopes his congregation will be able to move into the new church by next Easter but realistically, they’re aiming to be settled in one year from now.