A year full of sadness, joy, and progress has passed since the devastating fire that destroyed the Somers Congregational Church.
It was 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2012 when the first call came in, saying that there could be something bad happening at the church. By 1:20 a.m. the next morning, the building had collapsed and the fire had been knocked down, but the heartache and work were just beginning.
Over the past year, numerous individuals, groups, and committees have worked hard to take care of business and prepare for the new Meeting House.
And through it all, Rev. Barry Cass and the people of the church have been very positive. According to Cass, there seems to be no one in the Somers community, and no one who passes by the church, who has not been touched by the loss. He said that he does not go to Geissler’s without someone stopping him to ask how things are going or to comment on the progress being made.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
“As horrible as the fire was, and as difficult as it has been to move beyond it and build enthusiasm for a new building, there are many positive things that have happened,” he said. “I am still stunned by the outpouring of support and care we have received since the night of the fire and continuing even now. I have always felt that the church had a central place in the community – physically, but also as a presence as well – and people have shown that to me over and over this year.”
He added that the concern and generosity of the people at Johnson Memorial Medical Center have been amazing.
“Since the first call from David Morgan, their CEO, the day after the fire, they have allowed us to carry on our worship services and church school in the Community Education Building,” he said. “This has allowed us to have a routine and to know that we have a place to gather. Their kindness is moving, and our gratitude beyond words.”
Cass said that the reality of the situation is that there has not been a single day since the fire that he has not found himself dealing with it in some way. There were decisions about the cleanup and about restoration, and more.
“We hired architects and a construction manager and made big decisions about design and what was to be included in the new building,” he said. “But we were also dealing with getting the office and Bugbee wings back in shape. We have had to make lists of thousands of items that were lost in the fire for the insurance company. We’ve been cross-referencing those lists with the things we have had to purchase to keep things going.”
The concrete is in place for the new building and the steel will soon be arriving. Cass said that while the pace seems slow to some, really good progress has been made.
Cass said that people in the community have been helpful in moving ahead and the church looks forward to having a new Meeting House in early to mid Fall 2013.
“We will have a dedication weekend to which the entire community will be invited,” he said. “There will also be a celebratory organ concert once everything is completed.”
For now though, the church will be undertaking a major capital campaign to raise additional funds needed to cover the cost of the new Meeting House not covered by the insurance settlement.
“We hope to offer all our members and friends the opportunity to be a part of this project over the next few months,” Cass said.
Nothing formal is being done to mark the anniversary of the fire, but Cass is sure that members and friends of the church will be thinking about it.
“It is an event that changed our life together and our individual lives,” he said. “My thoughts will be with all those who have supported us and been so generous to us.”