– By DAVID LEAMING

Morning Sentinel

THORNDIKE – The fire that destroyed the Thorndike Congregational Church did not stop the parishioners from having Sunday services.

The century-old church was gutted on Dec. 28 in an early morning fire that officials blame on an electrical malfunction. The church is still standing along the Gordon Hill Road, blackened from the ground level to the top of the steeple, now surrounded by yellow tape and a no-trespassing sign. The interior is destroyed, and a large hole in a back wall reveals charred pews, pulpit, organ and chairs. Firefighters recovered church records and Deaconess Patty Banker said there is an interest in saving the bell inside the steeple and salvaging some of the stained glass windows and some pews.

Though the wood is destroyed and windows shattered, the will of the congregation to rebuild and continue services was left untouched.

According Banker, 30 church members gathered last Sunday at the Clyde and Hazel Rumney residence along with Pastor Paul Press for a Sunday service. Banker said 27 adults and three children filled a recreation room at the Rumney home for a service with a “brotherly love” theme. The message of the service is in response to all the outreach of offers from community members and area churches, according to Banker.

“The service was very upbeat and hopeful even though we are all saddened at the loss of the church,” Banker said. “We are all determined to move ahead and rebuild.”

Banker said following the service a meeting was held, and it was reaffirmed that the congregation wants to rebuild the insured church.

“We did not make a decision as to when we will rebuild, and we are contacting local contractors to both tear down the old church and build a new one in the same location,” Banker said. “The consensus is to forge ahead as soon as possible.” Banker added that the church would not be rebuilt this winter.

The church has had offers from area churches to allow services at their church, but Banker said that services will continue every Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Rumney home at 42 Palmer Road.

“We feel it is important as a community church to stay based in Thorndike,” Banker said. “We want to remain here as a church and be here for people who need us.”