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Victory Church in rural Bloomington plans to 'rise from the ashes' and rebuild after a fire

Bloomington Fire Department ladder truck at fire scene
Bloomington Fire Department
Fire crews from Bloomington, Downs, LeRoy and Normal needed close to five hours to extinguish Monday's blaze at Victory Church in rural Bloomington.

Leaders of a rural Bloomington church vow to rebuild after a fire destroyed their house of worship.

Senior pastor of Victory Church, Ed Herald, said the church building off U.S. 150 southeast of Bloomington is “a total loss.”

Herald said the church is making plans for services in the short term while waiting to find out whether any of the structure and its contents can be salvaged. He estimated as many as 30 Bloomington-Normal churches have offered their space or other assistance to the congregation.

“I’ve been ministering here for 23 years this February and I have no intention to do anything but rebuild."
Senior pastor Ed Herald

“I’ve personally lost count on how many churches and pastors have reached out to us to say we are welcome to use their facility on a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday evening,” Herald said.

No one was in the church at the time the fire the broke out Monday afternoon. It took about five hours for fire crews from Bloomington, Downs, LeRoy and Normal to put out the blaze.

According to a news release from the Bloomington Fire Department (BFD), fire crews were called to the church at 18180 U.S. Highway 150 at 11:46 a.m. Monday for an automatic fire alarm. BFD public information officer Eric Davison said crews detected light smoke coming from the rear of the building after they walked the grounds.

Herald, who was home at the time, said he could see through the church’s online security cameras there was some smoke inside the west side of the church.

“When (firefighters) broke in, they realized it was becoming fully engulfed,” said Herald, adding much of the fire damage was along the building’s west side and the rest of the structure sustained smoke and water damage.

Victory Church leaders in song
Facebook/Victory Church
Pastors and elder from Victory Church in Bloomington met for an evening of song and prayer on Monday night after their church building was destroyed by fire.

“The ceilings are falling in. Everything is melted. The sanctuary is standing in water. There’s all kind of debris that’s fallen from the ceiling and melted into the chairs, the pews,” Herald said.

Officials said no firefighters were injured in battling the blaze.

The Downs Fire Department was called to the scene at 3:19 a.m. Tuesday as a small fire had rekindled.

The State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire.

Herald said while the congregation will need a temporary home, he has no doubt about the church's long-term plans.

“We will rise from the ashes of this place,” Herald declared. “I’ve been ministering here for 23 years this February and I have no intention to do anything but rebuild.

"The lights on the building are out, but the lights on the church are not because we as people are the church, not the building."

Herald said the church leadership plans to meet Tuesday night to consider the church's next moves that may include creating a GoFundMe page, or some other method to fundraise.

Herald and his family founded the church in 1999 and moved into its current location about 15 years ago.

The congregation has about 350 members, he said.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.