Oakland – The members of New Hope Baptist Church prior to receiving the Holy Communion are clasping hands with bowed heads and praying aloud for the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the Ghost Ship fire this past Friday.This was the first time the congregation had assembled since the news of the tragic fire. Most of the members did not personally know of anyone who lived, worked or partied at the Ghost Ship. You would not have known this from the sounds of heartfelt prayers that filled the sanctuary.
Their pastor, Bishop Sean Teal, also Moderator of the Home and Foreign Mission District Association of Bay Area Churches, is calling for a cooperative effort with all churches and pastors to provide prayer, material needs and offer grief counseling to those affected by Oakland’s worst fire in over two decades. A teleconference for pastors is set for today at 12:00pm in order to rally a response to the emergency and to also begin shaping a strategy for the conditions that created the Ghost Ship and caused such destruction.
The death toll rose to 36 Monday and will surely still climb after a massive weekend fire roared through Oakland’s “Ghost Ship”. The warehouse sits in Fruitvale, a neighborhood with a large Latino population a few miles southeast of downtown. This warehouse was turned into an artist collective and popular party space. The city has reported that eight victims, all under 35 years old, have been identified. One was a 17-year-old whose name has not released.
The Ghost Ship is symptomatic of Oakland’s gentrifying landscape of skyrocketing rents disappearing artist spaces and the total failure of any city strategy for the homeless. The Ghost Ship became a fiery grave because of need and negligence. The “starving artists” need a space and place to live and work. The city is negligent for not holding the owner and landlord accountable and responsible for the safety of those who worked and had to live in the “Ghost Ship”.
Our most sincere condolences goes out to the families and the friends of those who lost their lives, Our prayers also go out to the survivors and the burden they must be carrying. You are not alone!. Our support and prayers to all the firefighters and first responders who have sacrificed so much to save lives and to spare more heartbreak. Thank you all!