NE church still standing despite loss of building

By Joe Jarosz
Northeast News
August 20, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Although the building collapsed, the church still stands.

And now, officials are saying the remainder of the building must come down.

On the morning of Aug. 7, almost 65 people, children and adults, were inside the sanctuary of Rios de Agua Viva church, located at 3200 Independence Ave., when the side of the building started to collapse. Later that day, the ceiling collapsed. Nobody was injured.

The Rev. Herminio Leal, leader of the church said the city makes the final decisions and have told him the building is beyond repair and will need to be demolished. A demolition date has not yet been established.

“There’s nothing I can do,” Leal said.

For the next couple weeks, Leal said the congregation is meeting at the Reardon Civic Center in Kansas City, Kan. After Labor Day, Leal said he isn’t sure where the church will meet.

“We are a church,” Leal said. “We must continue to grow and go forward. This was a minor step.”

Leal explained that although the building collapsed, which was reportedly due to heavy rainfall from the night before, the church still stands. The congregation is still emotional about the loss of its building, but he said, the devastation could have been a lot worse.

“We saw the hand of God work and He took care of us,” Leal said. “We’ve worshipped there for years and have a lot of good memories in that church.”

Although Rios de Agua Viva hasn’t been in the 113-year-old building long, Leal said the congregation has slowly been growing over the last couple of years. He said the church would regularly host special events in the area to get more engagement from the community.

The church had plans for the community, as well. Leal said there was talk of opening an after-school program to help area students and keep them off the streets.

“This is our region,” Leal said. “We try our best to help within the community.”

Over the past week, Leal said he’s received a lot of support and help from the community. He said he wants to thank area churches for offering space so they can hold service and the media for getting information out about the church.

“We have a lot of good brothers and sisters around us,” Leal said.

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