MILFORD, NY-- The Milford community went through a devastating loss last year, when the United Methodist Church was destroyed in an arson. But they are moving forward to plans to rebuild the church.
Whenever Rev. Sylvia Barrett thinks about the night the United Methodist Church burned down, she chooses to remember the positive things that came out of that night.
"There were six different fire crews and I was just overwhelmed they were just the kindest, nicest, most professional people," she said. "They stayed 'til 4 o'clock in the morning, making sure everything was out."
She also mentioned many community members reaching out to her to share their memories of the church.
"I heard from so many people, 'I was brought up there,' 'I was baptize there,' 'I was married there,' and I still to this day get letters," she said. "It really helped and I think one of the key features of the new church is to be the heart of the community, that's going to be our motto, bring light to the area."
The sanctuary that had become more than a building for so many was set on fire by a Springfield Center man back in March of 2017. Gerald Althiser, 21, was sentenced to five years of probation, which is served in a supervised institution because he is developmentally disabled. The church eventually relocated to a former grocery store, just a few doors down from the original location, while the new church is being built.
"We decided the night of the fire we were going to come back as a congregation," she said. "So that hope has kept us, our light burning. All this together you really find out the sense of family."
The new church will used for services and prayer but it will also have many more uses for the community.
"It isn't necessarily going to look like at church, we're not doing pews, we're doing chairs that can be moved around," she said. "We'll have a stage platform and if any community theater groups want to participate and put on productions, we'll be open to that. I think it's just given us a whole broader reach to people."
Even if construction isn't complete by November the church will still host a special guest for the Thanksgiving Day Mass.
"I invited the bishop to come and preach on Thanksgiving," Barrett said. "Right from the word go people said 'no way' and I said 'well never mind, we've got a date to work to.' So the bishop is coming to preach on November 25, even if I have to stand there and hold an umbrella over his head, we will be on some part the building."
Construction is expected to be complete for the entire project by March 2019.
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