Jefferson Avenue SDA Church home to many for nearly 200 years

[anvplayer video=”5080116″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The people of a Rochester church that was destroyed by fire are promising to keep the faith.

The historic landmark, Seventh-day Adventist Church on Jefferson Avenue was reduced to blackened ruins overnight. Members of the congregation held a prayer vigil at the church Sunday afternoon. For 185 years,this church has been a staple in the Rochester community. Church members say while the fire burned away the building, it didn’t take away its history.

"To see this church in this shape is unbelievable,” said Alma McKee, a long-life church member.

"I’ve been here my entire life, for worship, from childhood till now,” said Angela Tucker-Hill, the head clerk for the church.

For almost 200 years, the church building was "home" for so many people. Members of the congregation say memories are embedded from the walls into the pews.

"The impact on my family, this community, and has been there so many times for so many people, so it’s time that we’re here for you guys,” Rochester City Council Vice President, Willie Lightfoot said.

One member tells News10NBC that the church helped her conquer one of her biggest fears.

"My son got married here, my sister got married here, most of my best memories are here. This is where I actually received my foundation to get over my phobia of speaking in front of people,” McKee said.

Flames gutted the church Saturday night and brought much of its roof crashing down, but Pastor Hanson Drysdale says it’s the people who bring the congregation to life.

"The church is not within the four walls, this is the church, the church remains militant,” Drysdale said.