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East Village Fire Damages 128-Year-Old Church

A fire in a vacant building in the East Village early Saturday morning spread to a 128-year-old church that houses the New York Liberty Bell, destroying its Gothic-style sanctuary and blowing out the Tiffany stained-glass windows that adorned the stone facade, fire and church officials said.

“I see a gutted building full of smoke,” said the Rev. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister for public theology and transformation at Middle Collegiate Church, a Reformed Protestant congregation that predates the American Revolution. “The sanctuary is gone, absolutely gone.”

The cause of the fire at the vacant building at 47 East 7th Street, which was reported at 4:48 a.m., is under investigation, officials said. Four firefighters had minor injuries, John Hodgens, an assistant fire chief, said.


The church welcomed everyone, she said, including Broadway stars and the destitute seeking help.

“It didn’t matter,” Ms. Deely said. “We welcome everyone. We have a diverse membership.”

Middle Collegiate Church was built in 1892 and has a congregation of about 1,400 members, said the Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft, the church’s executive minister for justice, education and movement building.

Ms. Lewis, who joined Ms. Ashcraft at the scene, said all that remained of the church was its stone front and signs that read “Just Love,” the church’s motto, and “Black Lives Matter.”

“The value of Black lives didn’t burn,” she said.

Read entire article at New York Times