By Jason Grant, The New York Times.
The old church has sat just up a hill from a main street here since 1870. Its towering steeple has been looked at from blocks away. Its red and beige sandstone walls and 19th-century stained-glass windows have enticed thousands of people to stop and gaze.
The earliest members of the Presbyterian church have connections to this city even today: The local high school, for example, is named for Dwight W. Morrow, an early trustee who later became an ambassador to Mexico and a United States senator. His daughter, Anne, would marry the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. The couple’s toddler son, before he was kidnapped and murdered in 1932, is believed to have crawled on the church’s floor.
So when a fire erupted inside the First Presbyterian Church of Englewood on Tuesday, destroying the sanctuary just days before Easter, it seemed all of Englewood had been struck.
No one was hurt in the blaze, which investigators have called an accident, but the treasures it ruined seemed incalculable. They include a sanctuary where many hundreds have been married, baptized and memorialized; a 4,114 pipe organ, the largest in Bergen County; and 10-feet-tall stained-glass windows, including one designed by Louis C. Tiffany that was estimated to be worth more than $1 million.
On Sunday, hundreds of congregants and well-wishers gathered at the Bergen Performing Arts Center for the church’s Easter service.
The congregation’s pastor, the Rev. Richard Hong, told them that the building, while special, was not the heart of the church. Rather, he said in a sermon, the heart was its people, an ethnically diverse community, who would thrive regardless.