Historic Middle Collegiate Church in East Village destroyed by fire, hosts first in-person worship since pandemic began


EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) – A historic church that was devastated by fire in 2020 held its first in-person church services on Sunday since the start of the pandemic.

The Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue was destroyed last December by a 6-alarm fire.

The church was built in 1892 and has been linked to key historical events in American history.

On Sunday, the congregation gathered for an outdoor celebration in front of the shrine in the shade of what remains of the building.

“It was just like an eruption of joy from the bottom of my soul – it’s so beautiful,” said Reverend Dr Jacqui Lewis.

In early December last year, a six-alarm fire broke out in a nearby building. The flames then spread, destroying the sanctuary.

At that time, no one had entered the historic church for nine months, due to the pandemic. During this time they worshiped virtually and 400 new people joined the church – like Tonya and Majora – now longtime friends. They live nearly 3,000 miles apart, but Sunday was their first face-to-face meeting.

“I wish the building didn’t burn down, the church did, but we’re together because of it, so I have mixed feelings – it’s very poignant,” said Tanya Fox.

As for the reconstruction, the church does not have access to the neighboring lot where it all started, so logistically it is a challenge.

“It’s a time when we bring the community together and connect because it’s a homecoming,” said faithful John Delcueto.

The service has been the subject of enormous planning and although it was a one-time gathering, Reverend Lewis told Eyewitness News that if all goes well everyone will be back in person. for Christmas services.

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Martha J. Finley