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Sunday Worship Devoted To Loss Of Historic Chapel | News

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Sunday Worship Devoted To Loss Of Historic Chapel

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) -- ATF special agents started the investigation late Sunday afternoon after firefighters deemed it safe to enter the devastated chapel.

Despite the incredible loss of the historic Immanuel Chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary worshipers came together for Sunday service.

They worshiped at Immanuel Church on the Hill across the street from where the fire took their beloved chapel.

Sunday worship devoted prayer to the devastating loss.

Rector Peter Ackerman says, "This morning's 8 o'clock service where the congregation does meet at that church, many of them stopped by before coming here, the sadness was palpable."

Before and after the services, worshipers came to what's left of the chapel to see the damage first hand. Fire gutted the historic church Friday. The precious Tiffany stained glass windows are gone.

Doreen Williams says, "I wanted to see what it was like. It's perfectly awful."It's absolutely heartbreaking. My late husband and I went to this church for 30 years and it's gone."

Doreen and many others including international leaders found this sacred ground a special place. President Gerald Ford had paid a visit, so did South African activist and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

While in search of comfort, the congregation still finds a way to help others. Its annual pumpkin patch continues outside. All the money raised will go to outreach ministries.

Seminarians say their faithful community and God's work are beyond brick and mortar.

Rector Peter Ackerman says, "Life at Immanuel Church will go on."

ATF agents will return to their investigation at the chapel on Monday. They have not determined a cause yet.


Historic Episcopal Chapel Catches Fire In Alexandria


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA/AP) -- A fire caused extensive damage Friday afternoon to the 129-year-old Immanuel Chapel located on the grounds of the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va.

The Very Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of the seminary said, "The Virginia Theological Seminary Community is saddened and devastated by this catastrophe." Markham added that the buildings nearby are intact and safe.

When fire crews arrived the chapel was fully engulfed in flames, according to Alexandria Fire Department spokesman John North. He said the final damage is likely to be a "terrible loss."

According to the seminary's web site, "The ministry and mission of the Virginia Theological Seminary continue, even as the community grieves. Founded in 1823, the Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church.

The site went on to say that the school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas.

No injuries were reported and fire investigators said it was too early to determine a cause.