DOUGLAS – A Douglas church is on the road to recovery after a fire destroyed its place of worship in May 2020.

The blaze destroyed not only the Ministerios Tierra de Bendicion Church of God on Fifth Street, but also local church records as well as some new equipment. The church had been a “home away from home” for the congregation of about 200 people for the past 15 years.

Since the fire, Pastors Fernando and Denisse Betancourt have been holding services at the former Kmart building on 16th Street, a place they had previously purchased prior to the fire, hoping to “someday” relocate there. The fire expedited the relocation process, and since June of last year church members have been meeting at the building while upgrades and renovations take place.

On Sunday, Aug. 29, the Ministerios Tierra de Bendicion Church of God held a Blessing of the Families service at which backpacks filled with school supplies were given out to the youth attending the event. Free hot dogs, popcorn and drinks were also provided, and there was even a grand prize drawing for one lucky youth.

“In the midst of all this turmoil that is happening right now with the pandemic and all that is going on around the world today, we wanted to bring some happiness into our community,” Pastor Fernando said. “We know a lot of families are struggling right now, especially with COVID, and we felt this was one small way we could help our struggling families. Many of these families don’t have just one child, they have several, and we wanted to provide them some school supplies that they can use.”

While conducting his sermon Sunday evening, Pastor Bentacourt asked his congregation to pray for not only those impacted by Hurricane Ida, but also those families who lost loved ones in that devastating bombing last week in Afghanistan, which killed several American soldiers.

“We want people to know that there is a God that loves them very much,” he said.

Bentacourt added that being in the new location is a blessing because it has more space and when all the members show up for a service, there is ample room to worship and still maintain a safe, social distance.

“Our parking lot is now huge, we don’t have any more issues with parking,” he said. “Being here has been a real blessing and in the midst of the pandemic, our membership here has been growing as a church. God has been good to us. We’re excited to see what he has in store for us.”

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