Spencer Police Department / Facebook

Firefighters responded to a call at the First Congregational Church in Spencer, Massachusetts, after the church had been struck by lightning. Soon, the 160-year-old building burst into flame. “It was small at first, and then the whole thing was engulfed. It’s really sad,” said Samantha Holmes. John Mutlick, another bystander who witnessed the fire, called it a loss to the community. “It’s pretty devastating because there’s been a lot of people I know who have gotten married here; a lot of people went to the recovery center here.” The church was built in 1743 after a wealthy merchant, Nathanial Cunningham, donated the land upon the church to be built, making the church a decade older than the town of Spencer itself. A bigger church was constructed in 1772, with the steeple being added in 1802. 

The church’s interim pastor, Rev. Bruce Macleod, stated the church had been made completely of wood, accounting for how quickly the building burned down. The Spencer Fire Department reported that no one had been injured and shared pictures of the fire on its Facebook page. Smoke from the fire could reportedly be seen in neighboring towns. The department thanked numerous other departments for their help in putting out the six-alarm fire so quickly. “This was a monumental task that was out of control within minutes of the fire alarm call. We’re glad there were no injuries or truck damage,” the post said. The department also acknowledged the loss of the historic church to the community. “We feel for the Church Community for the loss of their place of worship,” the post added. 

The congregation of 30 combined with the First Congregational Church of Leicester, where Rev Macleod is also the interim pastor. The congregation has not determined whether they will rebuild the church or sell the lot. Preaching the following Sunday, Rev. Macleod stated he did not believe God was the source of the fire. “I have to say [that] I don’t think God made the fire,” he said. “I don’t think God makes us sick. I don’t think God makes the bad things happen. I don’t think God does it to teach us things. I don’t think God does it to punish us. I do believe God is there with us in the midst of it and that God is here with us to help us pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next.” Soon after the service, Snopes referred to the story after a post went viral stating a “Woke LGBTQ+ church” was struck by lightning. Although Snopes did acknowledge the church’s Facebook page had some LGBTQ+ friendly posts, it did not connect the two events.  

This is not the first time a fire has destroyed the church. In 1862, the church was also completely burned down when two boys were heating up the house for a preparatory lecture. According to an 1862 story in the Gazette & Courier in Greenfield, “A fire which recently consumed the Congregational church at Spencer originated in the employment of two boys to heat the house for a preparatory lecture. The boys crowded in the hemlock wood till the stoves were white hot, and a little while after they left, the church was wrapped in flames. Nothing was saved but the large Bible. The church was insured for $3,000 in the Merchants and Farmers’ office of Worcester.” The church was rebuilt and dedicated in 1863. 

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad