Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of a fire Sunday morning at popular Midtown Memphis church in the Cooper-Young neighborhood.
It happened around 6:15 a.m. At First Congregational Church, which also houses a number of non-profit groups, including a clothing closet and food pantry.
Total damage is estimated at $350,000.
A church employee told me the church’s sanctuary and adjoining hostel are pretty much OK, but the basement area – where food, clothes and supplies are provided – is in much worse shape.
“It’s very upsetting because it’s a pillar of the community and it tries to give back,” Jarvis Broyland, who benefits from First Congregational Church services, said.
Those who worship or are beneficiaries at the church, equally upset and unnerved, as charred clothing, tables and supplies lingered outside after a fire broke out Sunday morning.
“I’m shocked because this is a church that helps the community a lot,” Broyland said.
A church maintenance worker said the fire mainly affected The Hub, a global goods store, clothes closet and food pantry in the church’s basement.
Broyland enjoys lunch at the church’s Cafe Congo three times a week, which he said is a meal with a meaning.
“It’s very touching, it gives people, it gives people motive to keep pushing, pushing through their struggle,” Broyland said.
Now, investigators and insurance adjusters work to find a cause and chart a course to reopen an area of First Congregational where compassion met care.
“Very important to the area because they they give back,” Broyland said. “I mean, clothing, food, lunches.”