Resurrection of United Parish Church
By Gail Geraghty
HARRISON — When members of the United Parish UCC of Harrison and North Bridgton gather on Easter Sunday, they will enter a church where every square inch of interior surface— even down to the electrical wires inside the ceiling — has been meticulously wiped clean and made new.
Though it wasn’t planned this day, the Easter message of resurrection falls on the first Sunday after all of the shiny new kitchen appliances have been delivered and installed, and all of the other extensive painting, renovation and repair work to all of the rooms, both upstairs and down, has been completed.
“It works out perfectly. The timing of everything is coming together,” said Joanne Sullivan, church administrator.
Eight months ago, the future was dark and uncertain, after a kitchen dehumidifier caught fire in the early hours of Sept. 1, 2012, sending heavy black smoke and soot billowing to every corner of the church, even passing through walls and doors into the ceiling, coating electrical wiring and lighting. Yet even after the fire began, the flames were delayed from igniting by the lucky effect of water spraying out from a broken dishwasher hose.
When a church volunteer and his wife arrived around 6 a.m. to prepare a breakfast, the smoke had been building for hours, and would have ignited and been out of control within a short time afterward. As it was, the soot covered Rev. Franklin Anderson’s desk inside his closed office, and settled everywhere it could within the upstairs church sanctuary pews.
“You just wouldn’t believe it. Everything was black,” Anderson said. Still, Rev. Anderson admits that he was totally naïve at first about how long it would take until the church could reopen.
“I thought it would be a couple of months or so, and we’d be done,” he said.
With ServPro doing all the cleanup work and insurance covering the damage, new framing and insulation were installed, walls and carpeting replaced, and all new furniture was purchased. Electrical systems, spray-on insulation and lighting were installed, providing a major quality upgrade to what had existed before. And in the downstairs kitchen, all new state-of-the-art kitchen appliances have been installed, and the temporary divider has been removed to create a larger meeting space.
“It truly has been a resurrection to our life as a church community and a resurrection of our relationship with the greater community,” said Rev. Anderson, as an outpouring of assistance and support was offered in both fundraising and meeting space.