Bridgeport Church Continues Outreach Despite Ceiling Collapse
The United Congregational Church of Bridgeport is determined to carry on in running its food pantry, soup kitchen and emergency overflow shelter despite a major ceiling collapse late last week.
"We are determined not to close any of these programs - we're just getting creative in how we do it," says Pastor Sara Smith.
Getting creative has meant working with the Trumball Congregational Church to serve meals from the upstairs worship space and removing pews from a chapel so that homeless people can sleep there instead of in the damaged part of the church.
A portion of an old heavy plaster ceiling in the church's Pilgrim Hall – where all the outreach, rentals and church programs besides worship take place - collapsed on Jan. 30.
"We were very blessed it happened when no one was in there. And because it is such a busy place – it could have been very tragic," Smith said.
The church hall is about 1200 square feet, and about one-fifth of the ceiling collapsed.
Smith said she just found out on Monday that an engineer's report is calling for the remainder of the ceiling to be taken down because it is also in danger of collapsing. Insurance will cover the costs related to the damage, but will not cover work to the portion of the ceiling that is still intact.
"I'm not sure how we are going to pay for that," Smith said.
The church building is being sold to the Islamic Community Center for $1 million. United Congregational’s services will move to a smaller location, but the existing ourteach program will continue to be offered in that location, run in cooperation by the UCC church and Muslim congregation. The church intends to get the ceiling fixed before the May 1 closing.