HAINES CITY (FOX 13) - In what seemed like an instant, the Beraca First Haitian Baptist Church was gone, and with it generations of memories.
The church went up in flames Tuesday night as 30 church members gathered for Bible study and saw flames burst through the ceiling.
"It was a heart-wrenching pain," a member who grew up in the church said.
Beraca, the oldest and first church of its' kind in the area, was the cornerstone of the Haitian community. Congregants, many of whom are fairly recent immigrants, have celebrated weddings, held funerals and had important gatherings at the church.
The building was 80 years old and showing its age. The pastor tried to get insurance, but couldn't.
"They sent our money back," Pastor Fritz Paul said. "They said we are not going to be able to get insurance."
Congregation members said they were not sure what came next. A nearby church offered Beraca space to hold services for a while.
In the meantime, an account has been set up to help: www.gofundme.com/fppa5g9c.