‘Church is people’
Appeal Staff Writer
Stools and chairs charred from a Sunday fire are stacked outside the sanctuary of Connected Church of the Nazarene.
Computers were ruined, instruments were melted. Projectors and sound equipment were destroyed.
Nothing was “even remotely salvageable,” said Pastor JJ Tuttle. The fire took everything.
“Anything you can possibly imagine,” he added.
But Tuttle and David Tatum, the other pastor of the Carson City church, said the real church wasn’t damaged during the fire suspected to be arson.
“The church is people,” Tuttle said, “and wherever the people are, that’s where the church is. This is the building that houses us and it doesn’t make any difference what happens to this place.”
The four-year-old church of about 175 people had the most damage of any group in the Sunday afternoon fire at 900 Mallory Way. Other businesses and organizations the church rents space to were damaged by smoke. It could be a month before utilities are connected and they can move back in.
Church leaders don’t know how much the damage will be, but the costs will be “staggering,” said Melvin Manley, a staff member at the church.
The building, however, is secondary, he said.
“The people are coming by and wanting to know how to help and wanting to know how to be involved,” he said. “And we’re just telling them, ‘We’ll get to that. We’re going to have services Sunday – not in the building, but we’re going to go on. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
They might hold church in a tent beside the building, Tatum said.
The fire is a challenge, said 61-year-old member Bill Loid, but the church will recover. He said he hopes the church can still hold its Dec. 14 potluck and talent show, where he plans to sing “O Holy Night.”
Loid was at the building Monday to see how he could help. Fire officials still were investigating, though, and asked people to stay out of the building.
“People are going to be saddened by it (the fire),” Manley said, “but we’re resolved not to let it stand in the way of our mission.”
Pastors Tuttle and Tatum said church members and tenants in the building are more important than the sanctuary. They said they’ll try to get the utilities back up as fast as they can.
Tamara Holmes, owner of Positive Energy, a dance studio, said she is looking for somewhere to hold classes until she can get back in the building. A month without a building would really hurt the business, she said.
Dr. Smash Fabrication smells like smoke, said shop owner Eric Bevans, but the building wasn’t damaged.
He has a wife and three children to support, however, and wants to get back to work as soon as he can.
“It’s so close to the holidays,” he said. “I didn’t plan for this.”
Tuttle said everyone is disappointed by the fire but there also is a lot of people trying to help. He said he’s just grateful no one was hurt.
“All that happened was stuff got ruined,” he said, “and stuff is stuff.”
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.