Prince of Peace: Destroyed by fire three years ago, old church now rebuilt

Three years ago, the century-old Prince of Peace Baptist Church in Strawberry Mansion was decimated by a six-alarm fire that investigators blamed on electrical-wiring issues. The blaze sent off plumes of smoke visible for neighborhoods and fiery debris onto nearby rooftops.

Sitting on a stoop across Berks Street, churchgoer Charles Jones recalled the damage that sent parishioners to temporary trailers around the corner to worship. What Jones saw yesterday was a steady stream of men, women and children heading into a newly built church and community center for a “Church Anniversary” doubling as a rebirth.

“It’s so beautiful, outside and inside,” he said. “I thank God for everybody who helped rebuild that with all my heart.”

Across the street, choir-members wearing gold-and-purple robes sang inside a worship area with walls matching the cinder blocks under their makeshift trailers, an in-ground aquarium leading to the altar and a wall-mounted television airing live shots of the service and Pastor Robert Shipman’s words.

Shipman’s assistant, Valerie Latimore-Allen, said the rebuilding mirrors — and helps — an improving neighborhood around them. In recent weeks, they’ve held events thanking donors and neighbors. Yesterday was the start of returning to normalcy in their new digs.

Follow Brian Hickey on Twitter @MetroBHickey.

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