OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – One house of worship is helping another after a devastating fire in Oakland. A Jewish Temple is opening its doors for historic FAME Church to hold its services after the oldest Black church in the East Bay was gutted by a large fire less than a week ago. It’s a temporary but positive fix for the congregation.
Firefighters swarmed the historic Black church on Sunday. They tried to save it, but the powerful flames destroyed the building. But out of this tragedy, a rabbi and pastor are coming together and giving FAME Church a place to call home – at least for now.
“I was shocked. The community was shocked. The members were shocked. But we have turned a bad situation into a good situation,” said Pastor Rodney D. Smith with FAME Church.
Smith says the church is getting a helping hand from some friends in Oakland. For the time being, FAME Church will hold Sunday services at Temple Beth Abraham.
“We feel terrible for them and the fire and what’s happened to their church, but our community is really moved by the fact that we have an opportunity to help,” said Rabbi Mark Bloom.
Bloom says there’s a long history between the temple and the church. Both houses of worship have existed in Oakland for more than 100 years. Video of the large fire was hard for the rabbi to watch.
“My first thought was selfish, which was ‘What if it happened to us?’ I mean, I can’t even imagine. But my immediate second thought was ‘They’re gonna need some help, and they would do the same for us,’” he said.
“God works in mysterious ways because that brotherhood was already formed, and when this tragedy happened at FAME he stepped right up so we’re very grateful for Rabbi Bloom,” Smith said.
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FAME Church serves a congregation of more than 400 people. Many of them stream the Sunday services online.
Pastor Smith says he is thankful for the support they have gotten so far. He is asking people to be patient for the future.
“We want everybody to know that this is not going to get an overnight fix. This is going to be a process, and we’re going to make sure that as we get through this process we do it and we dream bigger,” he said.
The first worship at the temple will be this coming Sunday at 10 a.m. The rabbi says they’ll keep it open for at least the next several months. As for the investigation into what caused the fire, that information has not been released.