Church sees outpour of support after fire

HOUSTON - Churchgoers returned to Heights Presbyterian Church Sunday, four days after an electrical fire gutted part of the historic building at 18th Street and Rutland.

A joint service was held Sunday morning with another congregation, Beacon Light Outreach Ministry, which also meets at the church.

Despite everything lost in Wednesday's fire, leaders from both churches found reason to celebrate.

"What we see as destruction, God says it's all about construction.," said Pastor Travin Roquemore, of Beacon Light Outreach Ministry. "There's going to be something new on this campus. If we didn't have a mark on this Heights community, we got it now."

The building that housed a modern worship center and classrooms was destroyed by the fire, but church members are thankful firefighters were able to protect the sanctuary from fire damage.

In the days that have followed, the churches have also seen an outpouring of support. Two fifth-graders donated $40 they raised by selling bracelets, and a girl scout sold and then donated more than 200 boxes of cookies.

"I've seen the church and these two congregations draw together with a unity, and an energy and encouragement, strength that's come even in the midst of this loss," said Pastor Lynne Buckridge, of Heights Presbyterian Church.

Buckridge said an environmental assessment will have to be conducted on the sanctuary before it is able to be used again. In the meantime, they are trying to replace plastic Easter eggs and candy that was destroyed by the fire.

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