WESTPORT, Conn. -- When the Rev. Allison Patton was hired by Saugatuck Congregational Church in Westport, she became a pastor without a space to call her own.
Now, more than three years after the Nov. 20, 2011, fire that nearly burned the historic Post Road East church to the ground, Patton said she is ready to welcome her congregation home.
“After having received the hospitality of others in our community over the years, we’re really excited to swing open our doors,” Patton told the Daily Voice.
When the church -- built in the early 1800s -- was nearly lost to the fire, the Saugatuck Congregational Church community continued to worship. According to Patton, they held services anywhere they could, including Temple Israel, on the beach and at Christ & Holy Trinity Church.
Although they held its first worship service on Christmas Eve, Saugatuck Congregational Church will hold a rededication worship at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 8, with Patton and United Church of Christ Connecticut Conference Minister, the Rev. Kent Siladi.
The service will bless the new building and officially welcome it back into the Westport community, according to Patton.
“We hope the service inspires faith, mends hearts, builds community and serves Westport,” Patton said. Churchgoers can expect “lots of special music… and guests.”
Over the past three years, Patton, the church and many community partners have worked hard to rebuild the worship space. The time since the fire has been “a creative” one, she said, when the church was able to restore and preserve historical characteristics such as the original crown molding, while also altering the interior space.
“Part of the reason it took three years is because we did change the space,” Patton said of the reconstruction process. “There’s a new youth room, a welcome center in the main entrance off the parking lot and a sunken terrace,” leading off of Hoskins Hall.
For Patton, the last three years have been challenging, she said, but it has been an experience that has made all involved stronger.
“After the fire, Saugatuck Church was reminded that we matter to this community,” she said. “It has been a real affirmation of the place it holds in this community."
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