Today is the first Sunday in about 160 years that the people of Spencer, Massachusetts don’t have a place of worship.
The First Congressional Church of Spencer was destroyed by a fast-moving fire Friday reducing a church that had been standing since the Civil War to a pile of rubble all in about 45 minutes.
The building was on fire at 207 Main Street, which is Massachusetts Route 9, according to the Spencer Police Department. The address is for the First Congregational Church of Spencer, United Church of Christ, a congregation that dates back to 1743, according to the church’s website.
It’s a devastating loss for the town, but the surrounding faith community is stepping in to help.
The First Congressional Church of Leicester opening their doors to the Spencer congregation today for a service at 10 a.m. The sister churches share an interim minister.
Fire chief said the fire was likely started by a lightning strike.
No one was hurt, but the building was completely destroyed, including a cell tower and a thrift store that were inside. Demolition crews tore down what was left, covering the debris and leaving a big empty space in the community:
“The top of the building just came crashing down,” said Krystal Sanchez. “It was terrible. There were people crying, it was really, really bad.”
Sanchez lives nearby and said she saw a lightning strike just before the fire started.
“I was just sitting in my house and I heard the ambulance come. I really didn’t think anything of it but when I came outside there was just smoke and fire everywhere,” she told NBC10 Boston.
She added that she watched as the steeple of the church crumbled because of the flames.
“It was terrible. There was people crying, it was just an awful scene,” she said.
“It’s been a pillar of the community. It sits up on a hill, so it was really prominent when you came down through the town, you could see it from everywhere in town. So it’s a huge loss.” said Spencer Fire Chief Robert Parsons.
Spencer Cable access is asking people to share their memories, wedding photos and other personal ties for a tribute their working on. You can go to their website here.