Somers Congregational Church

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb                                                                                        

“The Building is Gone – the Church Remains.”

As reconstruction efforts advance the 285th Annual Meeting will be held Sunday for the Somers Congregational Church in Connecticut destroyed by fire on New Year’s Day, according to the church website. In addition to worship service, the Annual Meeting is scheduled for January 22 in Somers Town Hall across from the church remnants at 599 Main Street. Although the church was built in 1842, the congregation is said to date back to 1727.

“We have lost our beautiful historic and memory filled Meeting House but the spirit of community and cooperation and the affirmation of the presence of God no matter what we face are strong and clear as we move on,” Rev. Barry Cass wrote on the site.

Not even 150,000 gallons of water Cass said were poured on the Somers Congregational United Church of Christ’s Meet House, Bugbee Center, offices and church-owned house at 603 Main Street by firefighters from Somers and area towns could save the structure from the blaze which is still under investigation. It began just before midnight and raged into the early morning hours of January 2 when a stunned community awoke to the devastating news reported on television stations and in newspapers throughout the state.

Destroyed too was the church organ and some Nativity displays. Siding on the town hall blistered from the fire’s heat. However, Cass credited firefighters and structural features for salvaging a newer rear section of the church, home to their preschool. Also salvaged were the pastor’s “preaching robes and stoles” which were cleaned and expected to be worn again by the reverend.

A benefit fundraiser pasta dinner was held earlier this week at a local restaurant and the Somers Fire Department is slated to host a benefit pancake breakfast this Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon. Other reconstruction efforts underway include determination of the value of the church building prior to the fire and its contents for insurance claims, according to the church Website. A committee has been appointed, as well, to consider possible restoration of the church bell and other items. As of January 29, it was noted,worship and Sunday School will be moved to Johnson Memorial Hospital, Chestnut Hill.

Indicative of the spirit of the congregation which is an integral part of the community, a large sign was put up in front of the church thanking firefighters and emergency workers for their response. The church also housed a food pantry, and in 2005 it created a Field of Flags to honor each American casualty in Iraq and Afghanistan which drew appreciation well beyond the small town of Somers.

Donations can be made to Somers Congregational Church, P.O.Box 295. Somers, Connecticut 06071 – include a memo “Building Fund” or online at the Connecticut United Church of Christ Website -click the Somers Congregational Church Fire Fund box.