Houston Historical Damaged By Flames

There's a building in Houston's Midtown that's more than twice as old as the Astrodome and like the Dome, it also has historical significance. Earlier this week, flames erupted in the old wooden structure, causing significant damage and bringing back bad memories for the members of First Evangelical Lutheran Church. But the clean-up has already started as the congregation looks to the future.

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(Sounds of  drills)

A team of workers is busy taking out dozens of church pews. They don’t appear to be damage, but they’ll have to be cleaned and workers will also need the space to clean the soot filled walls.

Dorry Shaddock walks in circles over and over again around what looks like a big wooden box.  It’s actually and organ. And Shaddock is the church organist.

Bill: “Have you tried to play it yet?

“We have no power, but I don’t think I would. I would be afraid to do that just now.”

 It wasn’t that long ago that First Evangelical Lutheran Church was damage by Hurricane Ike.

“I’m sad the congregation has to go through this again so soon after trying to overcome from the  hurricane damage, which involved drying out the building.”

Church member Paul Orton was also looking around checking out the damage. He’s been a member since he was born, 76 years ago.

“Everything in here that you see is the way it was built in 1927, except for the continual organ and the speaker system, and perhaps the air conditioning didn’t come in until the 70’s. Otherwise what you see is what was here in 1927.”

The fire started around 4:30 Monday morning when the building was empty. Pastor Evan McClanahan still can’t believe what happened.

“The fire started we believe possibly underground. They’re still investigating it. It moved into our sacraci which is kind of a back room where we prepare communion elements, have our communion wear all of our vestments for the liturgical service and that room is gone completely down to the ground, the hallway next to it is gone.”

Whether it’s the benches or the roof, everywhere you look in the church there is wood.

Pastor McClanahan gives credit to firefighters saying the damage could have been much worse. And even in this trying time, he says the church is drawing strength from their faith.

“The church is not immune from the suffering of the world. We are in the world, but not of the world. And so we have to deal with hurricanes and fires and everything that everyone else has to deal with.”

Services will be moved next door to an adjoining building while the main sanctuary is cleaned and restored. That could take anywhere from six months to a year. Either way, Pastor McClanahan says they will continue to worship God and spread the gospel.

“That is who we are. That’s what we are about and whether we’re in this building or the building next door, that is not going to slow us down.”