M'burgh church vows to go on


By David Avitabile


Despite a fire that heavily damaged their church, the members of the congregation of the Pilgrim Holiness Church in Middleburgh is undeterred.
Just one day after a fire last Tuesday damaged the front of their Route 145 church, members met in the basement of Pastor Richard Owens’ home for prayer and a business meeting.
“The congregation has been upbeat and positive that good will come out of it,” Pastor Owens said Friday.
The Pastor expected to hold church services on Sunday, probably in the basement of his home, which is next to the church on Route 145, just north of the Village of Middleburgh.
“It’ll be a little crowded but we’ll manage,” he said.
There are between 30 and 35 members of the congregation.
As for future services, the Pastor said they still plan to hold their revival meeting, possibly in a tent, and there have been offers from four different churches in Middleburgh and Huntersland for space for services.
“There’s been a lot of friends and people who have offered help and condolences and food,” Pastor Owens said. “We appreciate that. People have been very kind.”
Pastor Owens said the members have not yet decided on where to hold future services.
In addition to Sunday morning and evening services, there are also services on Wednesday evening and the women of the church meet on Fridays.
The church, which was constructed in 1985, will be rebuilt, he said. The building was covered by insurance. It will probably take several months for the work to be done.
By Friday afternoon, a blue tarp had been placed on the front of the church to keep out the weather.
The front half of the church, where the fire apparently started, was heavily damaged but Pastor Owens said the walls of the church, aside front of the front wall, are sound.
The front wall, porch and car port, along with the Pastor’s van were destroyed.
About half of the roof rafters are not salvageable, Pastor Owens said.
Pastor Owens, who lives next to the church, said he heard the fire alarm from the Middleburgh fire house before knowing there was a fire at the church last Tuesday.
Around 10:15pm, Pastor Owens said he heard a pop outside, which may have been a tire on his van. He went outside and saw that the church was on fire.
Middleburgh Fire Chief Brian Devlin said the fire call came in around 10:15pm and firefighters arrived on the scene within six minutes and found a working fire. The fire was under control in about 45 minutes and firefighters remained on the scene for over an hour to check for hot spots and to begin their investigation into the cause of the fire.
The cause was determined to be electrical in the attic area of the front part of the church, the Chief said.
About 35 firefighters from Middleburgh, Huntersland, Schoharie, Cobleskill, Livingstonville, and the Schoharie County FAST team were at the scene. No injuries were reported and MEVAC personnel were also on the scene.
Chief Devlin thanked the dispatchers and the law enforcement with the help in fighting the fire.