October 7, 2016
Five weeks after fire ravaged a century-old Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, those affiliated with the church have responded with resilience.
For more than a century, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church stood tall in the city’s Overbrook neighborhood. Now only the charred outer walls of the building remain after fire raged through the church during an early Monday morning in late August.
Firefighters were quickly on the scene. Witnesses said it didn’t take long for the flames to get out of control, shooting from the church’s doors, windows, and roof. At least one person was in the church when the fire broke out, but firefighters were able to bring that person to safety.
The building was home to six congregations, as well as a preschool, after-school programs, and a daycare center. Immediately after the fire, staff members of the Presbytery of Philadelphia began working with the church on alternate locations for worship, insurance, and other issues, as well as determining how to move forward in rebuilding.
“There are things about a 1912 structure that are not the best conduit for ministry in 2016. We need to pause, hear God’s voice, see the gifts God has given to those who are here today, and determine what the needs are and what is appropriate moving forward,” said Rev. Kevin Porter, stated clerk with the Presbytery of Philadelphia.
After the fire, the presbytery issued a statement. “We thank God there were no injuries or loss of life, and we are thankful for the amazing efforts of all the firefighters and first responders who kept the fire from spreading to neighboring homes and businesses,” said Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace, executive presbyter, in a prepared statement. “Our prayers for comfort, peace, and hope are with Pastor J. B. Adams, the congregation of Good Shepherd, and the other worshiping communities that met in the Good Shepherd building.”
Congregations from the church gathered with community residents for a prayer vigil after the fire.
“With the backdrop of the church frame behind us, there was a strong showing of solidarity between the different faith communities present,” said Porter. “The church of Jesus Christ is the community of believers, not the structure, and although that structure may have been damaged, the church of Jesus Christ is very much alive.”
Rick Jones, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
Let us join in prayer for:
Staff of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Praise to you, abundant God who knows no scarcity! Praise to you, living God who makes all things possible and new! Amen.