Community Steps Forward To Help Church

When the Calvary Baptist Church in Hyannis caught fire March 13, the church Bible was open to Psalm 27.

Part of the page was burned in the fire. But the message of the psalm has proven prophetic.“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” one version of the psalm reads.

The Reverend Bruce Smith, pastor of the church, is seeing the goodness of the Lord in the outpouring of concern and help from the Cape Cod community in the aftermath of a fire that severely damaged the church on Lincoln Road.

On Monday morning, more than 100 people gathered together in Baldwin Hall at the Federated Church in Hyannis to discuss how to help the church come back from the devastating fire.

“I’m just totally ecstatic about the turnout,” Pastor Smith said Wednesday. “I was totally moved by it.”

At that meeting, a Yarmouthport architectural firm, Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Inc., offered its services free of charge in the rebuilding of the church.

A retired Air Force brigadier general, Jimmy Dishner of South Orleans, offered to help with the logistics of permitting and planning for the project.

And the executive director of the Cape Cod Council of Churches, Diane Casey Lee, began to organize a team to help the Calvary church continue its ministry of feeding the needy.

Those were just three of the ideas and offers of help put forward during the meeting.

“It’s testimony to what the Cape is capable of when one of us is in crisis,” Ms. Lee said Tuesday.

Fire officials have traced the fire at the church to a faulty extension cord in a makeshift bedroom near the altar of the church.

The cord overheated, causing a fire that came into contact with bedding and then spread into the rest of the church.

The fire was reported at 11:20 PM.

By the time firefighters arrived, the five people who had been staying overnight at the church for shelter had safely escaped.

The fire, however, severely damaged the church.

The blaze not only deprived the Calvary congregation of about 25 people a place to worship, but also jeopardized the church’s meals program, served three days a week to more than 200 needy people, and the food distributed through the church’s food pantry to more than 800 families a month.

The Federated Church of Hyannis stepped forward quickly to offer the Calvary congregation a place to hold its services.

The church also decided to host Monday’s meeting on how to help the church and its social service programs.

Ms. Lee said the meeting drew 115 people from a variety of faiths, as well as from human service agencies.

Among the participants was Mr. Dishner, a member of the board of the Cape Cod Council of Churches, who presented Pastor Smith with an American flag to replace the flag that had been lost in the fire.

“Today is the first day of rebuilding,” Mr. Dishner told Pastor Smith.

The pastor has pledged to rebuild the church.

Ms. Lee said each church and organization that attended the meeting is deciding on its own how to assist Pastor Smith and his wife, Caroline Smith, the Calvary church and the church’s programs, whether through special collections or other means.

She said the council of churches also will regularly post information on its website about the progress of efforts to help the Calvary church.

Robert Lomba, production manager of Emergency Contractors of Hyannis, which has been working with Pastor Smith in the aftermath of the fire, called the damage to the church “pretty extensive.”

The fire, Mr. Lomba said, caused a lot of heat and smoke damage to the building.

The structure, he said, has a lot of framing issues.

Given the age of the structure, originally built around the time of the Second World War, the building also needs building code and electrical code upgrades.

At the same time, Mr. Lomba said, “We’ll be able to salvage it… It’s going to take a little bit of work and a little bit of time, but we’ll get it together again.”

As for Pastor Smith, when he met this past Sunday at the Federated Church with his congregation, he said he told them that “we definitely are going to rebuild the church, and we’re going to continue our ministries to help the poor and the homeless.

”As a reading for the service, he took Psalm 27, the psalm to which the church Bible was turned when the fire struck.

Preaching on the psalm, Pastor Smith told the congregation that “God has our back, and not to be concerned.”

Donations to assist Calvary Baptist may be sent to the Calvary Baptist Church, PO Box 984, Hyannis MA 02601, or to the Cape Cod Council of Churches, PO Box 758, Hyannis MA 02601.


No comments yet.
Please sign in and be the first one to comment.