Church to rally to rise from the ashes

Blog Image 621877 - CLARK
Associated Press. Firefighters battled the fire at Prince of Peace Baptist Church at 32d and Berks Street on April 30, 2008

A church in the Strawberry Mansion section plans to rally community support as it works to rise from the ashes of a fire that destroyed the church's longtime home.

The Rev. Robert V. Shipman said a rally, set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, will show community backing for the rebuilding of Prince of Peace Baptist Church, destroyed in 2008 when a fire struck its home at 32d and Berks Streets.

"Some folks are suggesting that we don't have community support," said Shipman. "We have major community support, not only in our area, but across the city, because our church has been at the leading edge of supplying services to Strawberry Mansion."

Shipman said the church, with about 100 members, would be rebuilt at the site of its former 40,000 square foot, Classic Revival building. He said Prince of Peace had been at 32d Street for more than 30 years and in Strawberry Mansion for about 50 years.

Ground was broken in late March for the 23,000-square-foot church, Shipman said. The project is expected to cost about $4 million. He said the church received $3.2 million in insurance money to rebuild.

The building project, which is expected to take a few months, is using two union contractors and two nonunion contractors, Shipman said. "We've been getting some grief from labor unions," he said. The project fell behind schedule because it took about a year to get city permits for the construction.

"The community is behind us," Shipman said. "We have 1,500 signatures in support from the neighborhood. We have a membership committed to working in that neighborhood."