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Massachusetts community marks one year since church burned down after lightning strike

Outdoor service marks one year since Spencer church was destroyed by lightning strike
Outdoor service marks one year since Spencer church was destroyed by lightning strike 02:06

SPENCER - Members of a Massachusetts congregation marked one year Sunday since their church burned down after a lightning strike by preparing for a new home.

A staple in the community

One year ago, the First Congregational Church of Spencer was destroyed after it was struck by lightning. Sunday, dozens gathered for a service to mark what happened.

Spencer church fire
The steeple collapsed onto the First Congregational Church of Spencer during the fire on Friday, June 2, 2023. CBS Boston

"One year, I think, exactly the lightning struck around two o'clock, so that's why we decided to do it at two o'clock today," said parishioner Jennifer Anderson. The service was held on the basketball court right next to where the church stood.

"It's been in the community since 1744," said moderator Harold Carlson. "Yes, it has burnt down once before and rebuilt."

The church was a staple in the community. A gathering spot for AA meetings and Girl Scout meetings and of course, weekly services. Through song and prayer, parishioners were happy to return.

"This is a day of hope"

"This is a day of hope. The Spencer church feels called to be engaged in mission in this community. There are things that we were doing and more things that I think would be here to help people in the community," said interim Pastor Rev. Bruce MacLeod.

For the past year, parishioners have been gathering at the First Congregational Church of Leicester. It's a church they partnered with before the fire but now they say it's been a year and it's time to look to the future.

"We are still here, we're still a beacon on the hill for the community and that we're moving forward," said Anderson.

Church officials are working with architects to come up with a new design and cost for the new church that will have a community-based focus.

"We do have some insurance money but I'm not sure it will cover everything and so our hope will be that people will be able and willing to offer whatever contributions that they can to help," said MacLeod.

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