Historic New York Middle Collegiate Church destroyed by six-alarm fire

NEW YORK (RNS) – A morning fire in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood has destroyed the 128-year-old shrine of Middle Collegiate Church, one of the city’s oldest congregations.

Nearly 200 firefighters worked to put out the blaze in slow, misty rain, according to reports from The Gothamist. There was no loss of life in the fire.

The six-alarm fire started on the first floor of a vacant five-story apartment building nearby on East Seventh Street in the East Village around 5 a.m. before lighting up the church, officials said New York City Fire Department. Recount local ABC reporters. The roof of the church was on fire at 6 a.m.

The building was reportedly vacant due to a fire there in February.

“Unfortunately, it looks like it was pretty bad – the shrine is not in good shape, and we have some beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows that are missing,” Middle Collegiate Church minister Amanda Ashcraft told local reporters. on site. “Horribly sad day for our congregation and for this neighborhood. “

In 2008, the church installed a Marshall & Ogletree digital organ developed with the then resident organist. Cameron Carpentier and considered one of the most beautiful bodies of its kind.

Middle Collegiate Church, headed by Reverend Jacqueline J. Lewis, has its roots in the Dutch Reformed Church, which formed congregations in the New York City area in the 1600s. Founded in 1729, Middle Collegiate, also known simply known as Middle Church, is the oldest of the city’s four collegiate churches, including Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue, where Reverend Norman Vincent Peale served for decades.

Middle Collegiate moved into the East Village location in 1892, according to the church’s website.

“We are devastated and crushed that our beloved physical sanctuary at Middle Collegiate Church has burned down,” Reverend Lewis said in a statement provided to RNS. “And yet no fire can stop revolutionary love.”

The church, which describes itself as “multicultural, multi-ethnic and fully inclusive”, has become known for its strong perspectives on social justice, particularly in relation to racial justice and LGBTQ issues.

“We know that God does not cause these kinds of tragedies, but that he is present with us and for us as we cry, present in the hugs and prayers of our loved ones,” said Lewis. The church, she said, would continue to meet digitally, as it has since March, due to COVID-19 security measures.

“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 cry, ”Lewis said.


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Martha J. Finley