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Fire Tears Through St. Matthew Church in Ohio

Just days before the celebration of its patron, a fire tore through the nave and vestry of St. Matthew Church of North Royalton, Ohio. Damage was so extensive that the pastor, Fr. Andrew Harmon, said repairs could take one year. As a result, the community held divine services for the feast of St. Matthew at a nearby funeral home.

In a letter to the community, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph wrote: "I learned with shock and sadness of the fire that broke out in your sanctuary this past weekend. My shock and sadness were followed by my paternal pride in learning of the faith and resilience shown by all of you in the wake of this tragedy. Befitting your calling as Orthodox Christians, you have not ceased your rich liturgical life and have made plans to celebrate your patronal feast this evening with joy and hope in Our Lord. May the Grace of God received through your commitment to life of the Church bring your sacred community together to meet the challenges that have been set forth for you!"

Father Andrew explains that a ballast in a fluorescent fixture inside the vestry malfunctioned and sparked, causing the blaze on Saturday morning, November 11. Although the flames spread quickly, firefighters had them doused in about 30 minutes. Still, the iconostasis and much of the interior was lost or suffered extreme smoke damage. Altar server vestments and many sacred items also burned.

St. Matthew Church is a vibrant, active community that holds divine services several days a week. Father Andrew says he, the clergy, and the parishioners have no intention of letting this fire slow things down. He thanks neighboring Orthodox Churches for coming to their aid, especially in securing a temporary place to worship.

The parish has set up a YouCaring account to accept donations to assist with emergency expenses. Please keep the entire community of St. Matthew Church in your prayers during this difficult time.

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Metropolitan Joseph's Letter to St. Matthew Church After Fire 11.15.17 (PDF) 100.82 KB