Turlock Church in High Spirits Despite Losing Building in Fire

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TURLOCK –

After a day of so much destruction - demolition following a devastating fire - the re-building has already begun for Equip Church of Turlock.

"They need to see Jesus in us in these moments," said Pastor Greg Hazenberg as he led his congregation in prayers at Columbia Park.

Holding hands and offering thanks in the face of disaster, they're building their church community back the same way they've worked to build spirits.

"Heartbreak.  I was in shock. I was in shock," said member Vanessa Figueroa, as she described her feelings Friday.

Figueroa couldn't believe what she was seeing as she watched flames melt through the 75-year-old building housing her 3-year-old church family.

She's been there from the beginning.

"God had given us a vision for what we wanted to do here," she said.

"And then to see this morning that we lost a building that we poured so much love into, no longer be available. But that's okay because it's just a building."

Under a park canopy Friday evening as they prayed for new direction, Sandy Hazenberg, wife of Equip's pastor says nothing about what's happened has melted away their mission.

"God called us from a middle class church on the north side of town to help the people that are a little less advantaged. So our heart is for the gang members and the felons and the addicts and the children who are at risk for those things," she said.

"God will give you strength but that doesn't mean there aren't going to be tears. I've had plenty of tears this morning. Believe me, when I saw that fire break through the window there was a time to just weep, but it's just a building," said Pastor Greg Hazenberg.

Investigators say flames started attacking the basement of that building around 4:30 this morning, forcing a more than 17-hour firefight as those flames stayed trapped in the church's walls and sub-floor.

Arson has been ruled out and another cause has not yet been identified.

At the end of the day, the church's remaining walls were too unstable to leave standing.

What is standing firm?

The resolve of a church named Equip - sentiment taken from Ephesians chapter four verses 12-13, "to equip God's people to do his works and build up the body of Christ."

Equipped with God's direction and their faith, members say they're sad, but ready to brave a forced new beginning.

Pastor Hazenberg is in the process of securing a new place for the congregation to worship on a regular basis.

The building owners they rented from let the fire insurance policy lapse.

This Sunday, Equip will be meeting at Columbia Park at 10 a.m.