Church members come together for prayer service after fire destroys historic building

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It was a trying day for Pastor John Crane and the members of Evangelistic Center Church as they lost their beloved church to a fire.

The historic building located at Troost and Truman went up in flames early Sunday morning.

The thick smoke billowing from the building could be seen for miles, and even shut down a lane of Interstate 70 between downtown and The Paseo.

Sunday night, the roads around the church were still closed down, as the building appeared to flare back up. Fire crews returned to the scene to contain the fire again.

Right now, firefighters do not know the cause of the blaze, but KCFD, along with KCPD and ATF will be investigating Monday morning.

Sunday night, church members gathered at Neiman Elementary School in Shawnee to hold a prayer service.

There were tears, songs, and some words of inspiration.

"Job said this: Shall we accept the good and not the bad? May the name of the Lord be praised," Pastor John Crane said to his congregation.

Even though flames ripped through the walls of Evangelistic Center Church, its members showed praise and thanks Sunday night.

"Because we're people of faith. We trust in the Lord that He will work things out and He's got a plan. If this happened, it happened for a reason," said church member Linda Hickey.

Pastor John Crane's grandfather started the church back in 1954. This morning, the historic building burned before his eyes. But this tragedy won't rock his faith.

"That truth that they live by has to kick in in these times when you can't control these events. They happen," Crane said. "And no one expects them, but when they happen our faith has to come to the forefront."

Pastor Crane said although this building meant a lot to the congregation, it's only that -- a building.

Sunday night, the real church was inside a Shawnee elementary school gym.

It's the people who make up this church.

"I think there's a real strong sense of family, even with people we don't really know. Just because we know we're all in this together," Hickey said.

Members said their faith goes beyond the church walls, and Pastor Crane said they all already know the answer to getting through this difficult time.

"Worship in the Lord is the key to overcoming everything," Crane said through tears.

When asked how people could help the church, Crane expressed that he's more concerned with how the church might not be able to help others. The church has been collecting food and other donations to help families in need around the holidays.

All of those donations were lost in the fire.

He said the church is still determined to find a way to help those families.

Crane said he will be posting information on the church's website as well as its Facebook page for anyone who would like to help donate to the church's holiday outreach.