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Historic Middle Collegiate Church Holds Virtual Sunday Service Day After Fire Nearly Destroyed Building

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Services were held virtually Sunday at the historic Middle Collegiate Church after it was devastated by a fire on Saturday.

Demolition crews were on the scene and getting to work to clear the charred wreckage, CBS2's Christina Fan reported.

Members of the congregation said they felt just as gutted as the church. Not only did Middle Collegiate Church provide a sacred refuge to so many people, it was an icon of the East Village and housed the famous New York Liberty Bell that rang for the nation's independence.

Video from early Saturday morning shows the raging fire engulfed the church.

Firefighters believe it started inside a vacant building on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 7th Street. By the time first responders arrived, the flames had grown exponentially in size, spreading to the church and a third building.

MORE: Historic Middle Collegiate Church Destroyed In East Village Fire; Cause Under Investigation, FDNY Says

Two hundred firefighters converged on the scene, but there was nothing left to save once the fire was knocked down.

The sanctuary and the church's Tiffany stained glass windows were destroyed.

CBS2 spoke with one of the church's ministers who said she was crushed when she found out about the fire.

"It's absolutely the worst call ever. I feel like I'm living a nightmare, right now. Walking here in the rain is just compounded in this whole year," said Amanda Hambrick Ashcroft, executive minister.

Middle Collegiate Church is one of the city's oldest and most historic churches. It's also known for being progressive.

According to its website, the church donated to Black Lives Matter programming and funded grants to help people struggling to make rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, vowed to help the church rebuild.

If you would like to help the congregation during these difficult times, please click here.


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