A 150-year-old church in Southold, Long Island, NY, burned to the ground last Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, members walked around the parameter of the property weeping openly about the church where they raised their children, and sharing memories. Beth Young recalled, "When I was a little girl, I was scared to get dressed up for church. I'd inevitably go jump in a mud puddle as soon as the service was over and ruin another nice dress. But the great thing about this church is that the grown-ups kind of liked it when kids jumped in mud puddles. They were people who liked being free."
Pastor Jeff Gablee told reporters the church was established in 1837 and the building has stood since 1860. "It's a big part of Southold's history," he said. When firefighters were able to rescue the church bell, they brought full circle a little-known legacy. The bell in their fire station was a gift from the church in 1889.
"It's important for us to remember that we lost our building, but a church is not a building," said church teen advisor Regan Batuello. Pastor Jef agreed. "The church is the people," he said. "There's certainly a lot of history here, but we can still come together." The building was insured, and members have vowed to rebuild, in the spirit of these words by poet Edgar Guest.
"The humblest spire in mortal ken, where God abides, was built by men. And if the church is still to grow, is still the light of hope to throw across the valleys of despair, men still must build God's house of prayer. God sends no churches from the skies. Out of our hearts they must arise!"