POTTERSVILLE - A church destroyed by an arson fire about three years ago has been rebuilt and the new structure will be dedicated this weekend.
The public is invited to the consecration ceremonies of Christ Church Episcopal, to be held beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 23. The church is just north of Pottersville on state Rte. 9. A reception is scheduled to follow the service in the church, which was receiving finishing touches from carpenters this week.
The bishop of the Episcopalian Diocese of Albany, Rev. William Love, is scheduled to preside over the ceremonies.
Hundreds of donations from individuals, churches, community groups regionally and from afar, have aided the church in rebuilding. These donations were made after insurance proceeds left a considerable gap, said Jack Watson, warden of the church for more than 30 years.
The people and groups donated money, furnishings, religious icons, prayer books and pews, Watson said Tuesday.
A Massachusetts man was found guilty of not only the arson, but burglarizing the church several times and taking everything from communion chalices and a crucifix that hung over the altar. He also destroyed religious icons including a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Many of these items, which had sentimental, religious and historical value, Watson said, were recovered by police from the man who is now serving time in federal prison.
Watson said he was particularly pleased the altar crucifix had been recovered, because during World War II it had been strapped to a Jeep overseas, the Jeep in which Father Tisdale, then pastor of Pottersville's Christ Church, used to smuggle wounded Allied soldiers through enemy lines to safety.
The crucifix has now been returned to its place above the altar in Pottersville.
Since the 2006 blaze, Christ Church parishioners have been conducting services at the fire station in Pottersville.
The cross on the church that burned 88 years after it was built was somehow spared of the flames and it has been placed again atop the new structure, he said. The construction firm of Eric and Eric is serving as general contractors for the new building.
The first church building of the Christ Church congregation also burned 88 years after it was built, Watson said.
Watson said more than 200 individuals or groups donated money, furnishings and labor to rebuild the church.
The Schroon Lake Community Church donated an organ, Our Lady of Lourdes Church of Schroon Lake also made a considerable donation, pews were donated by an Episcopal church in Connecticut, and prayer books were donated by a church in New Hampshire. Donations were received from dozens of area churches including Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic congregations and various protestant churches from all over.
"We received donations from as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and all over the country - from people and groups of all different religions," he said. "It's amazing the response we've experienced - it's so heartwarming."
Watson added that the Christ Church parishioners now wish to share both appreciation and joy with their neighbors in Saturday's ceremony.
"With all the prayers and the donations we've received, we'd love to have everyone attend that can get here, to start off our new church," he said.