Historic Berkeley church reopens after devastating fire last fall

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- An historic Berkeley church had a lot to be grateful for Sunday as they reopened their sanctuary after a devastating fire last fall.

There was relief, joy, and commitment outlined in faces at Berkeley's first Congregational church that was built in the 1920s. Red balloons and red petals in the sanctuary were reminders of the massive fire that ripped through the hallowed halls and adjacent church offices last September--- the damage was so extensive an official cause was never determined according to the senior minister.

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"Both trauma and triumph - those feelings are intermingled. We can have pain and joy at the same time. Pain to see part of our campus still decimated, but so much joy to be home where we belong," Reverend Molly Baskette said.

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There were no serious injuries in the blaze. Firefighters were given thanks as the re-plastered walls and refinished pews and floors glowed in the Sunday morning light.

"It was a little scary to see the damage but I just feel really happy to be back," Matthew Mazzotta said.

The young and the old took it all in. Churchgoer Martha Anderson is turning 100 years old next month.

It's not over yet. There was $9 million in damage. The next step is rebuilding these church offices - something they hope to begin doing this fall.
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