The Bethesda Lutheran Church on Island Pond Road suffered a horrendous fire in its sanctuary on Sunday afternoon. CBS3 has been all over it, with on-the-scene coverage of the fire as it was being extinguished, follow-up coverage on the day after, and another story about the prayer vigil that was held last night in the church’s gymnasium, which suffered smoke damage, but no flames.
Make Way for Ducklings, a pre-school and nursery that moved to the site two years ago from its two-decades-long location on Sumner Avenue at White Street, had to shut down operations for a few days, and is relocating temporarily to St. Anthony’s church next door to Bethesda.
Bea O’Quinn Dewberry’s story in today’s Springfield Republican highlights the school’s situation, which received small mentions in the two previous stories about the fire in that newspaper. The school’s space also suffered smoke damage, like the gym (which the school uses), rendering it unusable until it is professionally cleaned. The crisis has an immediate impact on a lot of families in the area (which until this year would have included mine), who faced a closed school on Monday morning, with the director having to scramble not just to notify insurance and cleaning companies, but also parents, in a timely way.
Meanwhile, the parishioners of Bethesda have had to adapt and cope with the grief of losing their sanctuary on the very day they attended services as usual. As Pastor Kurt Christenson told CBS3, the building is not that old, so many people in the congregation have been around long enough to have watched the walls go up. Christenson himself is a newer arrival, having come east from California within the last few years, and he brings with him a strong positive attitude, including the idea that this crisis will help the church community become stronger.