Beauty from ashes: St. Andrews rebuilt


Caitlyn Greenway

The cross at St. Andrews, which remained intact from the previous fire, stands in the center of the worship room.

   In 2018, an electrical fire ravaged old Mount Pleasant’s St. Andrew’s church, causing costly damage for the historic church as well as countless difficulties for the congregation.

 “We were in the news a lot for that and it brought a lot of attention to our church and congregation,” Sally Wallace, who is actively involved in the church administration, said. 

       The electrical fire did a significant amount of damage to the structure as a whole, starting with the air conditioning. 

“It was an electrical system relating to the AC and it was just above the sprinkler system, so the roof burned, and by the time the sprinklers reached it, the whole thing was burned up,” Wallace said. 

      Being able to continue functioning out of a small, temporary location was anything but easy for the St. Andrew’s congregation. 

“We have a very large congregation, especially for an Anglican Church, around 2000 or 2500 people”, Wallace said. 

This made it very hard to find a space large enough to fit these people, as well as a nursery. 

“We ended up meeting in Mt. Pleasant Academy, and the principal was so generous to lend us the space during that difficult time,” Wallace said. 

       The electrical fire was not the only fire to take place. Just 7 months later, a young man, newly diagnosed with mental health issues, walked into the historic church building and deliberately lit the sacred altar on fire. 

“At that point we had installed really high level fire detectors everywhere, so it was immediately reported to our facilities manager who went in and grabbed a fire extinguisher and immediately put it out,” Wallace said. 

Thankfully for the church, the second fire only caused minimal damage in a small area, but the church was still feeling the effects of the first, major electrical fire. 

      As well as being a church, St. Andrew’s also serves as a local preschool and kindergarten. Before the electrical fire, plans had already been laid out for the construction of a new preschool building which was to be completed in several phases. 

“Now this is the interesting part, before the fire, we had started a capital campaign to build an educational building onto our existing structure,” Wallace said. 

Shockingly, construction on this building was set to start just one week after the fire happened. The fire was on Sunday, and the steel for the building was set to arrive that coming Monday. 

“Well, when the church burned, we of course had to pause our building plans because we had to pair down everything, but we already had all the architectural plans, all the, you know, engineering, all the product, you know steel ordered, sheetrock, all that had already been ordered. So, instead of doing it in 3 phases, we did it all in one, because we had to rebuild the ministry center, and we had the fire insurance to do that,” Wallace said.