Eight months after arson, Unitarians return to rejuvenated building
After eight months of construction following a fire, the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship returned for its first Sunday service back at its home on Cordell Street.
The church starts every school year with a water communion ceremony. Church members bring water from any source they’d like, which then is purified and used as holy water. Members brought water from as far away as Fiji and as close as Lewisville Lake to symbolize their connection to each other.
The Rev. Pam Wat, minister of the church, said the goal was to finish construction in time for the first Sunday service of the school year.
“People worked long days, especially in the last month,” Wat said. “We’re not totally done. We lost pretty much everything in our religious education wing — five classrooms including the nursery. We lost all of our furniture, books and class materials. We’ve only begun to purchase all the stuff we need.”
Tessa Morin, former president of the church’s board of trustees, joined DUUF in 2010. She said last year had been difficult for the church as a whole.
“The church’s windows were broken a few times, and then it escalated,” Morin said. “By December, it turned into arson. It was a difficult season. I think it’s the worst thing we’ve been through, but it feels good to be back now.”
After the fire, people donated money and supplies to the church. For the past eight months, the fellowship gathered for services later in the day at First Christian Church of Denton, just across the street. Wat said the Rev. Jack Mullins, from First Christian Church, offered the congregation a meeting space in his church the morning of the fire.
Now, Morin said, the Unitarian Universalist building is nicer than it was before the blaze.
“We’ve been able to do fresh paint and replace windows, replace some old flooring,” Morin said. “There was so much smoke damage that we had to start over, and it gave us an opportunity to refresh.”
Deborah Wilson, who started attending the church just before the December fire, said she and DUUF have gone through a lot of changes in a short amount of time. Her infant son, Benjamin, was blessed in a child dedication ceremony — similar to a baptism — during Sunday’s service.
“It’s been solidifying, in a way,” Wilson said of what the congregation endured. “I fell in love with this church as soon as I starting coming, and it all made me want to be a part of it even more. When we were over in the other building … we didn’t have our chime at the front, that sound that we’re all used to hearing. I found myself missing it, and when we got back and I heard it, I got chills.”
RHIANNON SAEGERT can be reached at 940-566-6897 and via Twitter at @missmusetta.