PUNE, INDIA (December 9, 2011) – Less than a week after fire gutted their building, this past weekend the members of St. Andrew’s Hindustani Covenant Church (HCC) worshipped in the sanctuary, which had been cleaned and repainted.
“The dark Monday is replaced with Advent Sunday of Peace,” Steven David, HCC moderator and one of the congregation’s pastors, writes in an email.
“The church was full of people,” David notes. “Holy communion was celebrated. And as per plan, a puppet show was arranged.”
The fire reduced everything inside the 150-year-old building to ashes on November 28. Church members arrived Wednesday last week to begin cleaning, and their Herculean effort enabled the congregation to worship in the sanctuary just four days later. People of all ages contributed their labor as they removed the debris, swept and dusted, and repainted.
Plastic chairs were brought in for people to use during the worship service. Someone painted a stained-glass window on a piece of cloth that was hung on the walls. Click here to see additional photos of the cleanup process.
The church of 1,000 members was the first to be established as part of the HCC. The denominational headquarters are located next to the church, but those spaces were not damaged.
Authorities initially said that a short circuit in the internal wiring system was the cause of the blaze. Church leaders disputed the findings, however, and pushed for further investigation.
That led police to change their original determination after it was found that a short circuit did not cause the fire. Authorities are now investigating the possibility of arson.