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Brazilian church founders dismayed at death of 9 in roof collapse

World News

The founders of the Reborn in Christ Church (Renascer) have said they were dismayed and saddened by the deaths of nine people in one of the denomination’s churches after a roof collapsed in the country’s largest city. "What happened was a great fatality. We don’t know the reason.

But there must be a purpose for so much suffering. Our heart is in mourning, suffering a lot, for the lives, for the victims, for the situation, for the calamity," the husband and wife founders of the church, Estevam and Sonia Hernandes, said in a statement after the tragedy. "We trust that in God we can find understanding and comfort in this enormous tragedy."

The church has also been hit by scandal in recent times. The Hernandes were arrested when entering the United States in 2007 and jailed for five months on financially related charges. They also face charges in Brazilian courts.

The accident happened on 18 January around 6:50 p.m., when worshippers were leaving the church following a Sunday worship service, and others were entering to attend the next service. The church building, a converted theatre located in the south area of São Paulo, had a capacity for 1800 people.

According to the Renascer communications office, at the moment of the accident only some 60 people were in the building, but media reports said that the number of worshippers in the area was much larger, between 400 and 600 people.

It is in this same church building that Brazilian soccer star Kaká married Caroline Celico in 2005. Kaká is a strong supporter of the church and he gave it the golden trophy he won when he was chosen as the FIFA World Player of the year for 2007.

Founded in São Paulo in 1986, Renascer now controls a television network, a recording studio, a radio network and a publishing house. The Fundación Renascer runs a number of social welfare projects.

Renascer has nearly 1500 churches in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, the United States, Spain and Japan, totalling more than two million members. The causes of the collapse of the church roof are under investigation by fire department and police officials.

(c) Ecumenical News International

Photo : World News