Services will take place outdoors Sunday at Grace Presbyterian Church where a fire Tuesday caused significant damage. (MARIA MONICA FERNANDEZ)

Montclair’s Grace Presbyterian Church is looking ahead, with plans to rebuild, after the historic church suffered significant damage from a fire Tuesday, said Pastor Robin Miller Currás at a press conference Friday, where Currás expressed gratitude toward first responders and firefighters who put out the blaze.

“I’ve always prayed for the people who run towards the danger instead of away from it,” said Currás. “We are so incredibly grateful for the firefighters for putting themselves in danger for our church, for an empty building.”

Members of the church, Forth Ward Councilor David Cummings, and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin (D), District 34th, also attended the conference.

Currás praised the community support of people who have offered to help with the repair expenses. 

Pastor Robin Miller Currás at a press conference Friday at Grace Presbyterian Church. (MARIA MONICA FERNANDEZ)

She also warned about scammers reaching out to people, pretending to be affiliated with the church and asking for money or gift cards to get help with the reconstruction.

“We have been called by parishioners who have been called by these scammers. Please, don’t fall for it.”

Currás emphasized that the church only accepts donations through the church website or checks mailed to their address: 153 Grove Street, Montclair.

“You can go to the church website, There is a donate button in the pull-down menu; you’re going to hit ‘church rebuilding funds,’” said Currás.

She also encouraged people to share their special memories and stories of the church at a newly created email – 

This Sunday, services will be held on the lawn of the manse at 63 Tuxedo Road, next to the church.

“We’re going to set up tents and we’re asking people to bring their lawn chairs. And we’re going to worship outside. We’ve got music all planned and refreshments,” said Currás.

For the following week, worship will be held at the Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair.

Currás confirmed the fire at the church started in the basement, but the cause is still unknown and the investigation ongoing.  

For now, access is restricted to the older part of the building, the sanctuary, and the fellowship hall. Currás expects to have access to the education wing soon.

“The front of the sanctuary is completely destroyed. There was a pipe organ that’s gone. There is no floor in the office space next to the sanctuary,” she said.

Church officials are also expecting water damage in the basement from the four feet of water that accumulated while firefighters sought to control the fire Tuesday.

“Yesterday, one of the firefighters told me he had a hard hat on while digging out, trying to get to the bottom of the basement. He got hit in the head with a beam that fell. We don’t want to be down there,” she said.

Fourth Ward Councilor Cummings took a moment at the microphone to congratulate the work of the fire and police department.

“This is a perfect example of showing up and doing the work that they do,” said Cummings

He also called on Montclair residents to support the church.

“I’m sure there’ll be plenty of financial support. Montclair is known for coming together and wrapping around things. This is when you see the best of Montclair and the church will return a couple of years from now,” he added. 

Assemblyman Thomas Giblin expressed his support for the church’s rebuilding and encouraged Montclair residents who work in the construction industry to step forward for a prompt rebuilding.  

“Perhaps we could do the reconstruction in a shorter period. There are many professionals within our community – architects, engineers, people with experience in building. I think what we have to do is to let them know,” said Giblin.

When asked if there would be money from the state to help the reconstruction of the church, the assemblyman said he couldn’t guarantee that. He shared that he brought a personal check for $1,000 to give to the church. 

For now, Currás is taking things one day at a time. She will be away for the next week, but she and her team will be working to keep offering a weekly place of worship to their community.

“We got a million offers of places where we can worship, so we’ll make that decision when I get back,” she said.



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