Clinton Hill Church Reopens Nearly One Year After Fire

By Janet Upadhye on December 4, 2013 11:11am | Updated on December 4, 2013 4:26pm

 The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew hosted Sunday services in its once-charred main sanctuary.
The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew hosted Sunday services in its once-charred main sanctuary.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Tuan Nguyen

CLINTON HILL — Sunday services resumed in The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew nearly one year after the church's foyer, facade and entranceway were damaged in an alleged arson fire.

Reconstruction of the church — costing $1.3 million — began earlier this year and finished just hours before Sunday's service.

"We were holding our breath a little," said the Rev. Christopher Ballard. "We are still working on some fire damage and the organ has not been repaired, but overall it was a very successful day."

Nearly 450 people attended the inaugural church service on Dec. 1, Ballard said.

The Episcopal church served as the headquarters for Occupy Sandy, where volunteers working with the relief group cooked meals and collected donations for victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

But last Dec. 23, a two-alarm blaze caused significant damage to the landmarked house of worship.

The fire was deemed suspicious by the NYPD and the Rev. Michael Sniffen, the church's rector, said he became certain the fire was caused by an arsonist after finding two gasoline containers outside the church but no one was ever arrested in connection with the fire, he said.

The church is still raising money to cover the full repair costs, but Ballard said thanks to insurance payouts and donations, the church will be open for the holiday season.

"Now after a tragedy we can celebrate a rebirth," Ballard said.

Neighborhood Sponsors

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement