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New York Explosion: Pastor Palpitates When Firefighters Find 80-Year-Old Bible Intact in East Harlem Rubble

( [email protected] ) Mar 19, 2014 10:10 AM EDT

Pastor Vernon Williams holds a bible that survived the explosion at the Spanish Christian Church in Harlem
Pastor Vernon Williams holds a bible that survived the explosion at the Spanish Christian Church in Harlem. Photo: Warzer Jaff

Officials in Harlem found a ray of light in the rubble for many still consumed in the darkness and haze of last weeks gas explosion that killed 8 people.  The explosion which destroyed the Spanish Christian Church and killed 5 of its members also whipped out many of their apartments which were located above the church.  

According to Pix11, A near pristine Bible was pulled from the wreckage three days after the explosion.  Other than being drenched by the fire fighting efforts, the bible was picked from it's burned out tomb under tons of  debris from the two five story buildings that came down around it, but it had not been burned in the terrible blast and fires. The Bible belonged to the church founders, and many who were on the scene described the discovery as miraculous.  

The 80-year-old church was in desperate need for a sign of hope, especially the pastor, Thomas Perez.  He was so overcome with emotion upon seeing the holy book that he had to be taken to the hospital for observation after complaining of chest pains.  He was scheduled to hold a prayer vigil, but had to reschedule.

"When he saw this bible, that's when he had palpitations," said the city's Public Advocate, Leticia James.  "Through all of the rubble, through all of the devastation, his book survived."

"It meant an awful lot to the pastor, because at least we have a remnant of the church," said FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano. "It showed the pastor they'll be rebuilding, that this church is resilient."

For all the people in the Harlem community who were affected by the explosion, the needs are many right now and the Bible find is a strong symbol.  

More than 70 people have been displaced and are now living in housing provided by the city.  

The Bible offers a ray of hope that will, for many, blessedly signify a rebuilding to come.

If you would like to help those who lost everything in the explosion, you may contribute to a fund set up by the Spanish Christian Church.