A fire in Lower Manhattan’s East Village ripped through the Middle Collegiate Church before being extinguished by area firefighters early Saturday morning. The building is well-known for housing New York’s Liberty Bell.
Jacqueline J. Lewis, Reverend at Middle Collegiate Church, believes the bell could have survived the blaze but is not yet sure. Lewis shared her sadness over the fire, but believes the congregation will press on and get through this hard time. She remarked,
“We are devastated and crushed that our beloved physical sanctuary at Middle Collegiate Church has burned. And yet no fire can stop revolutionary love. We thank God that there has been no loss of life. We know that God does not cause these kinds of tragedies but is present with us and to us as we grieve, present in the hugs and prayers of loved ones.”
Built in 1892, the church is home to the oldest congregation of Collegiate Churches of New York. The Middle Collegiate Church had been in two other locations throughout Manhattan since 1792.
Reverend Lewis added that services will continue digitally, as they have been largely since March, stating, “We’ve been worshiping and doing our ministry in digital spaces since March and that’s what we’ll be doing tomorrow. We pray for the first responders. We pray for our neighbors who are also affected by this fire. And we covet your prayers as we grieve.”