VIDEO: Berkeley church gets help after fire


BERKELEY (KRON)—“A church, it’s not the building, it’s the people.”

That is what the senior minister at First Congregational Church of Berkeley told us Saturday after the historic church went up in flames on Friday.

Now, other churches are offering a helping hand to a displaced group of worshipers.

KRON4’s Spencer Blake has an update from Berkeley.

Before the fire, there had been a memorial service scheduled for Saturday at First Church Berkeley.

Some parishioners stopped by in the afternoon to let others know it had been moved to a church in Kensington that offered up its building.

“Like any tragedy or crisis, this is an opportunity for people to support one another and really act like church,” said senior minister Molly Baskette.

She says their closest neighbor, First Presbyterian Church, is graciously hosting her congregation across the street for Sunday worship.

Though not religiously affiliated, the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra usually rehearse in part of the First Congregational Church.

They too have an invitation from St. John’s Presbyterian Church for Monday’s upcoming practice.

“Probably still scrambling around on a long-term basis ’cause it looks like this is going to be a while, ya know, at least a year, maybe two years before they fix it up,” said Stan Dewey, a Berkeley community chorus member.

Whether or not they can fix up Pilgrim Hall is yet to be determined by structural engineers.

“Either way, it’s an opportunity to rebuild something better and more efficient, more energy efficient, seismically safe, and something that can be an asset to our community,” Baskette said.

But the main sanctuary should survive its water damage and the Boys’ School on the other side of the campus was completely unharmed.

It should be able to reconvene as soon as utilities are back on.

“It’s where you get to find out what you’re made of and that you really can do hard things,” Baskette said.

Street closures around the church have eased up considerably ever since firefighters finished up their work, but there is a part of Channing Way right in front of the church that will stay closed, probably for another day or two.

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