Congregation of St. Matthew's Dallas Won't Let Fire Damage Stop Their Worship

The 100-year-old hall was being renovated into a daycare, office space

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A century-old Dallas church building caught fire Wednesday, causing major damage to the inside.

Garrett Hall is part of Saint Matthew's Church on Ross Avenue. Despite the interior damage to the hall, church members said this weekend's services will be filled with emotions of gratefulness.

Boarded-up windows and charred brick on Garrett Hall of Saint Matthew's Church show proof of the fire.

At about 3 a.m. Wednesday, a fire started on the first floor of the church. All three floors suffered some damage. Church members aren't letting the damage done by the fire discourage them.

We're not going to let this define us. We are going to rise from the ashes and bring this back to better than it was before.

Sr. Warden David Pinson, Saint Matthew's Church

The hall was being renovated into offices and a daycare. Fortunately, many historic documents and items were being stored elsewhere.

Church members credit fire doors for keeping flames from spreading to other parts of the church and the sanctuary. Officials said despite the damage done to the inside, the building remains structurally sound.

Cleaning crews are working to remove heavy soot that covered those areas.

Vince Sims

Church members are also rallying together to do their part.

"Everyone is stepping up and doing their little piece and everyone is coming together," Saint Matthew’s Church Junior Warden Janet Schoenecker said.

"It's very heartwarming,” Pinson said. “People have just come out of the woodworks saying, 'What can we do to help?'"

Vince Sims

Through everyone's efforts, church services won't stop.

"Tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock with five deacons and their ordination followed by a reception in the great hall,” Pinson said. “It's going to be a happy time for us to keep going."

Members expect there will be a large turnout for Sunday service. It will be members coming together not to weep over the damage, but to give thanks.

"Everyone is so very grateful and thankful that we are still here and it wasn't as bad as it could have been," Schoenecker said.

Saint Matthew’s Church was built in 1908. Garrett Hall was added in 1922.

Church officials said a Dallas firefighter suffered "significant but not life-threatening injuries while fighting the fire." The firefighter's current condition is not known. DFR has not confirmed what started the fire.

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