Officials in Guyana comfirmed this week that the Georgetown Catholic church where the late American cult leader Jim Jones performed fake healings using blood from chickens and other animals, is scheduled for re-commissioning in December. A Christmas Day fire in 2004 completely destroyed the mostly wooden Gothic structure.
Putting out a public appeal for about $200,000 to complete the super-structure and acquire furnishings, church spokesman Ramsay Ali said a concerted effort is being made to rebuild the Sacred Heart Church to accommodate about 400 “very sad” parishioners who lost their place of worship when an electrical fire flattened the building during a Christmas Day service in 2004.
Jones, who in November 1978 had enticed more than 900 members of his People’s Temple cult to commit mass suicide in the mosquito-infested Guyana jungles near Venezuela, had persuaded the Catholic Church to allow him to use the Sacred Heart facility on Main Street — at the time located opposite the U.S. Embassy, to perform healing services as part of a plan to win the hearts and minds of a skeptical Guyana public.
The healings were eventually exposed as phony after some cult members leaked information to local and international media that some of the blood used as wounds to be healed, had come from chickens and other animals. The church later publicly admitted its embarrassment and said it had been tricked by the very cunning Jim Jones to allow for the use of the building.
“We will be able to restart our outreach efforts in the community, which had a positive impact, particularly on children, who benefited from our feeding program,” Ali said in an written statement.
“Notwithstanding all the challenges over the years associated with the reconstruction of the building, we are at a point now where the reopening is merely months away. It will be very nice to have our own home once again.”
This time, the structure will be made purely of concrete just in case fire strikes again.