Hampden church's future unsure

Congregants wait to rebuild after fire

August 04, 2008|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,Sun Reporter

The congregation of a Hampden church that suffered an estimated $5.5 million in fire damage Saturday morning will await the assessments of building inspectors before deciding what to do with the building.

A group of 15 met for a little more than an hour yesterday at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church to discuss logistics.

"It was time for us to talk about where we wanted to go and what steps we wanted to take," said Betty Callahan, Mount Vernon United Methodist Church's lay leader and treasurer. "None of us have been through this before."

Callahan and the rest of the 40-member congregation will await the building inspectors' findings.

"No one has been able to get into the building yet," Callahan said. "Some of the windows are broken, and there is extensive water damage. The police managed to get the doors closed and secured with two-by-fours."

While an assessment of the church is completed, the congregation will meet for service Sunday at Good Shepherd Methodist Church. Another meeting will be held after the service.

"We'll get together and talk to [the rest of the congregation]," Callahan said.

The three-alarm fire engulfed the church early Saturday morning after several neighbors reported hearing multiple cracks of thunder.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Fire Department spokesman, Chief Kevin Cartwright said yesterday.

There were no injuries in relation to the fire. And no damage was reported at neighboring buildings.

The outpouring of support from the community in response to the fire has been overwhelming, according to Callahan.

"We've gotten such wonderful cooperation from the Police Department and from the mayor's department," said Callahan, a Hampden resident who has been a member of the church for the past 14 years. "You don't know what kind of impact you make until something like this happens."

Callahan said she expects that the church's two-ton steeple will be taken down today.


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