By Pastor Tim Mowers
With all that is going on with the Covid–19 virus, we can all identify with things not being normal. At Calvary Baptist Church, things have “not been normal” for quite a while. On November 16, 2019 things radically changed at Calvary Baptist Church in Preble. At 4:30 in the morning my phone rang, the person on the other end of the line was informing me that the fire alarm was going off at the church. I quickly got dressed and went across the road to the church. Chief Casterline was already there! I unlocked and we went in together. It didn’t take long to realize something was not right. The first thing we noticed was water on the floor, just outside the worship center. I opened the doors to the worship center, to see part of the ceiling had collapsed and the sprinkler system pouring water out through the gaping hole in the ceiling.
Chief Casterline and I made our way down to the basement, traipsing through water as it poured down the steps. Water was flowing through that ceiling and the basement had several inches of water on the floor. We went to the room that houses the controls for the sprinkler system and the Chief went into action. It was a real blessing to have him there, as he knew just what to do. He started shutting down the system and he was able to get the water to stop.
The water stopped pouring out of the ceiling, but that didn’t mean the problem was over. However, the emergency and imminent danger was no longer a threat. Instead of leaving though, more of the Preble Fire Fighters showed up and stayed to help us get the water out of the building. For five hours they sucked up water (some even brought their own wet/dry vacs), squeegeed water out the doors and cleaned up debris; from insulation to drywall and other stuff that had been soaked from the 8,100 gallons of water that dumped into the worship center from the broken sprinkler system. Chief Casterline set out to find out what caused the problem. His conclusion was that water had gotten into the dry system, causing it to crack and trigger the system to activate. The Chief also contacted our Code Officer, Rick Fritz, who arrived on the scene to check out the damage. As the discussion ensued about being able to use the building, Nick quickly offered the use of the Fire Hall if we were not going to be able to use the building. As Rick set out to inspect the building, his intention was to determine if people could still meet in the basement/fellowship hall safely. Thankfully, he gave us the OK to continue meeting, although not in our normal way, but still in our building.
Our church family worked side by side with the PFD and the water was removed. When Service Master arrived they told us that because the water was removed so quickly, lots of money was saved. Walls could be dried out instead torn down. Their job would be much easier because of the hard work of the PFD and the CBC Family.
We have had to work with insurance adjusters, engineers and even lawyers in the process of getting back to normal. Everyone had been very helpful as we had worked through this severe trial but our community came together to help. It was a real blessing to have a representative from the Congregational Church come to my door the first Monday morning to offer the use of their building to us, if we were not able to meet in our building. Our small town came together in amazing ways and soon we would be able to meet in our worship center again. To God be the glory!! We hope to celebrate getting back into the worship center once “everything” returns to normal. We look forward to honoring the Preble Fire Department for their “Above and Beyond” service to our church and our community. We were planning on hosting a Spaghetti and Meatball Dinner and Silent Auction fund raiser for them on April 17, but that could not happen due to the New York State mandated Pause we are all experiencing right now. We do plan on rescheduling that. We will let you know when that is to take place. We are currently thinking about some other ways to celebrate our return to normal and hope that you will celebrate with us.
Our great God showed Himself faithful in so many ways as we have worked through this challenge. One of the ways was that we sent out a plea to our fellowshipping churches in the area. On January 17-18, eight churches and fifty people showed up to help with repairs. Much was accomplished over that two-day period. We are so thankful that so many came together to give us aid and to honor the Lord in the process.
A few other things for you to be aware of regarding Calvary Baptist…
- Monday – Thursday the Homer Central School is distributing lunches for students. They arrive around 8:00AM and leave at 10:00. If this would be of help to you, they would love to serve you and your students.
- Mobile Food Pantry is at CBC monthly, usually around the third or fourth Wednesday of each month. In March we increased the number of boxes to ninety-six and all were given out. In April it was increased to 126. Our next event is on May 27th and our June distribution will occur on the 24th at 2 p.m. We are thankful to partner with the Foodbank of Central NY to help provide food for those in Preble and surrounding communities.
- This summer and fall, if the stay at home orders are eased, we hope to have some community events to help us all get back to normal. Watch Facebook and The Cortland Standard's Around the Towns section for these events as we finalize the activities and dates.