The six-alarm blaze gutted the Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 5, starting in a vacant five-story building and spreading to the historic structure.
You can now see right through the building on Second Avenue, but at the top of the steeple, the New York Liberty Bell remains intact.
"I couldn't believe it," the Reverend Jacqui Lewis said. "If you look at my building, if you look at my fire...how is it possible that the bell is intact, and it is, it's amazing."
VIDEO: Firefighters work to put out raging fire that gutted historic East Village church
Rev. Lewis said he was awed by the photos taken by a Department of Buildings inspector over the weekend. The bell was cast in Holland in 1731, and in the centuries since, it has rung in momentous events from the birth of the United States in 1776 to the attacks on 9/11.
"The bell represents the song that we keep singing," he said. "Of love, and when it rings again, we're all going to (scream with joy)."
The church was built in 1892, and it seems the facade and steeple will survive -- and the plan is to rebuild. For now, worship will continue virtually, as it has done during the pandemic. And on Sunday, other bells will chime.
Related: Community coming together after fire destroys historic East Village church
"Our neighborhood churches will ring other bells, because we can't ring ours," Rev. Lewis said. "We will do a socially distanced ring around the neighborhood.
It is a congregation able to lean on the larger community, and on each other.
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