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‘Devastated But Not Defeated’ – Pastor of South Jersey Church that Burned to the Ground


By Tom Campisi

Rev. Russ Hodgins, lead pastor of Fountain of Life Center in Burlington, New Jersey, shared a message of  resiliency and faith one day after his church was destroyed by a fire on Monday, March 20.

The sprawling Fountain of Life Center sanctuary, which housed the one-thousand member congregation, was completely burned to the ground during the 11-alarm blaze. The church’s adjacent school building, for pre-K through 12th grade students, was spared.

“The church is really the body of believers and not the building,” said Pastor Hodgins in a Courier Post article.

In a video message on the church’s website, Hodgins elaborated further and thanked firefighters for saving the school building.

“I’m sure by now you have heard that we suffered a fire here and our church building sanctuary suffered a total loss. And I just have to pause and say thank you for the outpouring of love and support and prayers that have come our way. I want to say thank you to the many municipalities that responded to the fire last night through their heroic efforts,” he said.

Hodgins, who is known as a church planter, previously served as a pastor in his hometown of Medina, NY, New York City (International Christian Center, Staten Island), and White Plains, NY. While pastoring in White Plains, he also served as the Executive Director of Brooklyn Teen Challenge.

“I want you to know that we are devastated, but we are not defeated,” Hodges said in the video. “We don’t have a lot of answers right now, but we do know that God is our source. God is our strength, and he is our help.”

The church was planning on having Sunday services on its campus.

“How amazing would it be if Sunday we all come together and just worship as the family of God? Many people have asked, how can we help or how can we pray? I would ask you to ask God to give us wisdom,” Hodges said. “There are so many decisions that have to be made right now and into the future and pray that he would order our steps and direct our path,” Hodgins said. “I want to thank you again for your love and your prayers and your support. And I’ll be back to talk with you soon and give you more details, but until then, may God bless you for being a blessing to us.”