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Church Opens Doors To Neighbor Congregation Following Fire

Posted at 11:28 PM, Dec 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 00:28:16-05

Woodland Presbyterian Church opened their doors to the congregation from Eastminster Presbyterian Church on Sunday, one week after Eastminster Presbyterian Church burned to the ground. 

"That building had a lot of memories for us, but thank God we are good, we are here, and we are fine," Pastor Gilbert Varela of Eastminster Presbyterian Church said. 

Eastminster Presbyterian Church caught fire last Sunday and was extinguished by firefighters, but hours later, firefighters were called back to the church, and when they arrived the church was engulfed in flames. 

"The church is the people, and not the building," Brett Withers, a member at Woodland Presbyterian Church, said, welcoming members from Eastminster to his church. "It's a small congregation, but really is like a family, and we really welcome everyone." 

Woodland Presbyterian Church has been no stranger to struggles. In the past, they've lost their church to the great East Nashville fire of 1916, and their church has been hit by two separate tornadoes. 

In the season of giving leading up to Christmas, members of Woodland found that this was a chance for them to give to those who need help, just like they needed it in the past. 

"A chance to partner with another congregation and a chance to truly live out what we're taught to do as human beings and open our hearts and our minds to other folks," Kelli McCleandon, an elder at Woodland Presbyterian Church, said. 

The two congregations have planned to hold a joint Christmas service, but in the weeks following, Eastminster Presbyterian Church will be welcomed to use the chapel for their services so they can preach their own sermon. 

The cause of the fire was still under investigation.