A Brooklyn church that was badly damaged in a fire has taken a small step toward rebuilding as congregants and community members are pledging their support. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Much of what was inside the building that's housed the Byways and Hedges Church for a decade is now gone.
"Everything is gone," said the Rev. Terry Lee of the Byways and Hedges Youth for Christ Ministry. "So right now, I'm at ground zero."
Fire officials say the fire broke out late Tuesday night under suspicious circumstances.
It started while Lee was at the National Night Out, an event aimed at fostering police-community relations.
"While he was out fighting crime and preventing crime, someone appears to have been here carrying out a crime, a crime of arson, a crime of intimidation," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
On Friday, local political leaders and church members turned out at Byways and Hedges in show of support for the longtime community leader and to ask for help in rebuilding.
"I'm sorry and worried and pained and weary of what they have done to my pastor," said church member Rubena Chambers. "But we are asking God to give us strength to fight another day and get a better place."
They also expressed hope that whoever started the fire can be tracked down.
"We'll continue to work to make sure somebody's brought to justice, and this church is rebuilt not equally, but better than it was before," said Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn.
Lee said the flames and water used to fight the fire destroyed the church's radio studio, where it broadcast over the Internet, along with robes for the clergy and his office.
"It's a real crisis. It's real devastating," Lee said. "Looking back on in this building here, I've been here for 10 years, and everything that I've done, everything now is a loss."
"Right now, we have to find a place for our congregation," said Joyce Lee, Rev. Lee's wife. "It's very hard. We're asking for help."
For now, Lee said he'll continue to tend to his congregation and all of Brooklyn through the church's mobile worship center in hopes of settling back into a permanent home soon.
Anyone interested in helping the church rebuild can go to bywaysandhedges.net for more information.