A Porirua congregation preparing to celebrate their church's 60th anniversary has been dealt a devastating blow.
Fire has destroyed Trinity Baptist Church in Titahi Bay overnight with the building looking like it will need to be demolished.
Church elder Brian Brannigan said the blaze that broke out this morning just after midnight was the second in 24 hours.
He said both looked to have been sparked by an electrical fault and the fires were not being treated as suspicious.
"I found out a few minutes after the second fire started because people started ringing that live on the hill.
"I had one gentleman ring me and he said 'Brian, your church is on fire and the flames are at least 50 feet in the air'.
"I've been here a long time so it brings tears to my eyes.
"As for how long we'll be out of operation here probably about 18 months I would picture by the time you get the building down and resource consent done to recommence."
This year would have marked 60 years since the church was built in 1959.
Brannigan said it was devastating for the congregation and the wider Titahi Bay community.
"It's the things for the community that the church does, like meals on a Monday night which they did for about 24 years. And they have a Monday lunch for people in need as well, all those sorts of things will not be able to happen."
There is also the risk from asbestos that was in the building's roof.
Brannigan said it was being tested now but it was pretty certain the poisonous material was present.
"The building was built in 1959 and that was a common building material. There will be environmental people that'll come in and they will clean up the grounds all around.
"It's usually when you've got the powder that you've got a problem, but they will get in and clean up all the lumps."
In the meantime the congregation has been offered lots of temporary places to set-up including the school hall next door.
"The community's really rallying around us, they've been wonderful.
"We've had all sorts of people who don't belong to the church ringing up and saying can we come and give you a hand to clean-up, can we do some baking for the people who are working there."