Zion’s Praise Cathedral Church to be demolished after July fire

Zion Cathedral of Praise is finding fellowship and support in other churches in Port Huron following a fire that left their building a total loss in July.

The burned shell of the church still stands at the corner of Moak and 30th Street as officials sort through the building to salvage any contents that may have survived the fire. Once that process is complete, demolition of the building can begin, said Pastor Kim Brown.

Brown said she hopes the demolition process will begin this month or next. Once that happens, church contractors will determine if they can start work on a new building before winter sets in.

Funds from the church’s insurance put it in a good financial position to begin rebuilding once that process can begin, Brown said. She anticipates there will also be fundraising to cover what insurance won’t cover, but the exact timing and process for this is still unknown.

Zion Cathedral of Praise at the corner of Moak and 30th Street in Port Huron on Monday October 3, 2022.

Brown said the church is holding services outside and at St. John’s United Church of Christ and Bridges. She hopes to have a firmer schedule of where services will be held over the winter by the end of this month, but said many churches and organizations have opened their doors to provide worship space or other assistance.

“We were able to continue our mission, baptizing, teaching, praying, preaching and helping others,” she said. “We were able to continue doing the things that we do, just in different places.”

Brown said she tries to keep the congregation within Port Huron city limits to keep it accessible to her parishioners, some of whom don’t have cars.

The church is also ready to continue its mission by helping others. Brown said the Zion Cathedral of Praise will hold its annual convention chili and coats event Nov. 19 at Woodrow Wilson Elementary, 834 Chestnut St. The event, which is a collaboration between several area churches and organizations, distributes coats and a hot meal to area families in need.

The St. Clair County Regional Equity Organization, or SCCORE, also operated out of Zion. Brown said the youth organization has found a temporary home in St. John’s starting this month for its after-school programs.

A silver lining to the fire was the collaboration and fellowship that came from working with other churches and organizations in the faith community, Brown said.

Zion Cathedral of Praise at the corner of Moak and 30th Street in Port Huron on Monday October 3, 2022.

“It’s a beautiful fellowship and a coming together of our bodies, and that’s what I find in this process; that for us, it’s definitely a time of growth and a beautiful time of sharing,” said Brown. “And we just got really lucky to get the love from our entire community.”

St. John’s pastor Dick Hotchkin also said it’s been positive for his staff to get to know Brown, Zion Church members and SCCORE staff. The church allows the Zion congregation to use its communion hall for services, as well as classrooms and a conference room for SCCORE.

Hotchkin said he also lost a church to fire during his career as a pastor, so he knows what Brown and the congregation are going through.

“I know it’s a traumatic thing for a pastor and a congregation, but it’s also an opportunity to have a new building, and in the meantime, to meet a lot of people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet,” said Hotchkin.

The Zion Cathedral Church of Praise was a total loss from the July 25, 2022 fire.

The fire was reported around 6:15 p.m. on July 26. No one was at the church when the fire broke out, as church members and staff had just left for dinner. When firefighters arrived, the structure was completely engulfed in flames, Port Huron Fire Battalion Chief James Hayes said.

Port Huron Fire Chief Corey Nicholson said Friday the investigation into the cause of the blaze remains open and active. He said the length of fire investigations can vary depending on internal and external factors — some of which are beyond the city’s control — but declined to provide further details.

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or [email protected]

Martha J. Finley