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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

Washington Park Church Destroyed In Overnight Fire, Leaving Congregation Searching For Temporary Home

Firefighters were unable to save Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a beloved fixture in the South Side community for nearly 60 years.

Firefighters work to put out the fire that destroyed Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church early Thursday morning.
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WASHINGTON PARK — In a parking lot of a Church’s Chicken, surrounded by a small crowd of friends and family, Annissa Rhone-Pennington stared at what was left of her church Thursday.

A blaze tore through Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 5847 S. State St., just before 3 a.m. Thursday. No one was was hurt but residents of an adjacent apartment building had to be evacuated until the fire was contained.

Rhone-Pennington, dressed in a winter coat, hat and jeans, told her husband, Rev. H. L. Pennington, Sr., that she had to go to the site where her church stood for 58 years.

“I’m still in shock, but I had to be here,”said Rhone-Pennington, a former Heartland Health and Hospice hospice aide.

Rhone-Pennington told Block Club that Rev. Pennington is currently talking to other members of the faith-based community to find a space for Cedar Grove’s congregation.

Credit: Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chicago
Workers tend to the former site of Cedar Grove M.B. Church, which had to be demolished after a fire broke early Thursday morning.

While she isn’t sure of what will be needed in the days and weeks to come, Rhone-Pennington only request for now is that people keep her family and congregation in their prayers.

“That’s all we need right now,” said Rhone-Pennington.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined by fire department officials, though WGN reported that relatives believe a furnace kept on to avoid freezing pipes may be to blame.