Anacortes congregation grieves sudden loss of pastor found dead in house fire

Photo: Nicole Miller

ANACORTES, Wa - – On Sunday, the congregation at New Hope Christian Fellowship Church crowded into their first worship service without their lead pastor.

Reverend Dwight Woodruff died Thursday inside his Anacortes home, which caught fire just after 12 a.m.

“He taught us about forgiveness, he taught us about fun, and being there for the people you care about,” said Nicole Miller, Woodruff’s daughter.

Assistant Fire Chief Jack Kennedy said firefighters battled the fire defensively for hours before finding the body dead inside.

Jordan Yeager, who lives a few doors down, called 911 when she noticed a burning smell.

Investigators are still trying to determine a cause, but have not been able to confirm there were working smoke detectors when the fire sparked.

“He just had a huge heart and a huge personality, and everyone he met was his friend,” said Miller, who drove up from Springfield, Oregon for the service.

Originally from Oregon, Woodruff moved to Washington and help start what is now the New Hope Christ Fellowship Church.

In 1999, congregation member Sharon Heisey said the church began with 23 members in a 3-car garage. She said it’s his legacy of outreach that she believes will be most crucial to carry on.

“He wanted to reach everyone with God’s love. This was his life. This was his ministry. And that’s what he left behind with each one of us,” said Heisey.

Miller said Pastor Woodruff’s memorial service is set for Saturday, March 2 at Anacortes First Baptist Church.

Miller added the New Hope Christian Fellowship Church is unfortunately too small to hold all the expected attendants.

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