Newark’s First Way of the Cross Church Gutted by Thanksgiving Day Fire

An early Thanksgiving Day fire mangled the insides of First Way of the Cross Church on Clinton Place, leaving only blackened remnants of the lectern and burnt piles of debris. 

“It hurts,” said Dana Beals a deacon of the church. “A lot of memories, a lot of hard work … now we don’t have any place to worship on Sunday.”

Police said the fire erupted shortly after 7 a.m. in the one-story church. It also caused minor exterior damage to a residential home next door.

Beals said no one was inside when the fire broke out and the church had no planned events for the day. The Apostolic church has been in the community since 1937 with Bishop Gerald Beals at the helm since 1995.

“I was disoriented,” Dana Beals, whose uncle is the bishop, said of hearing the news of the fire. “It was a shock because we were just here last night.”

He said his uncle, who is nicknamed Bishop McRough because of his tough exterior, was devastated. “This is his work, he has a heart for people, he has a passion,” Beals said. “It hurts me to see him hurt so bad.”

The South Ward church runs a hot meals program every day to feed about 25-30 people. But now the kitchen will have to be rebuilt — as well most of the church’s interior.

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SOURCE: Karen Yi