June 4, 2017 • 10 am
Watch a time-lapse video of the church's return to the Sanctuary on Sunday, May 21, 2017...
First Church Berkeley moved back to its own Sanctuary for worship for the first time on Sunday, May 21 at 10 am since being displaced by a fire on September 30, 2016.
A Grand Celebration of our return home will take place on Pentecost Sunday, June 4 at 10 am. Rev. Da Vita McCallister, who was recently called to be the Senior Minister at First Church Somerville, UCC, will be our special guest preacher. Expect special music, sights, sounds, surprises and treats after the service. Wear red!
We have invited members of the Berkeley Fire Department to attend worship so we can celebrate them and they have promised to bring a fire truck for the kids to look at after the worship service (if they aren't otherwise engaged).
After a few weeks worshiping on Sunday afternoons at the nearby First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, the congregation settled in at Congregation Beth El, also in Berkeley, where they have been holding worship for about seven months.
The move back to 2345 Channing Way will represent the beginning of a “new normal” for the church which will extend for a period of years. It will take some time to rebuild Pilgrim Hall which was most damaged by the fire. The functions that took place in that part of the building will be moved to other locations on the First Church campus.
Since summer is soon approaching the church will maintain its practice of having one service at 10 am at least through August. A decision about whether to have two services in the fall will be made mid-summer.
The church is currently using Loper Chapel and Durant House in a variety of ways and will also have access to rooms in the East Bay School for Boys on Sunday mornings.
In the Sanctuary, the ceiling was replastered, wood floors were refinished, new carpet was installed, the pews were cleaned and repainted, among other restorations. The physical look of the space is quite similar to what it was before. The organ and pipes, which are being cleaned will likely not be ready for the May 21 service, but it is expected that the piano, also being repaired, will be returned to the Chancel.
Work will continue on the Sanctuary roof and in the space between the roof and the interior ceiling, so expect to still see scaffolding on the outside of the Sanctuary. Part of the Cloister will be fenced off as will the front lawn. That work is expected to take a couple of more months, at which time the fencing will be moved closer to Pilgrim Hall, giving greater access to the that part of the campus.