When Robert Skirving preached in Raleigh during the afternoon of March 25, 2015, the congregation had a question for him.
“They asked why I smelled like smoke,” Skirving, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina said while addressing the congregation at St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church on Sunday afternoon.
Skirving gave the sermon at St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church’s rededication service, marking the first time the church has held a service since a fire damaged part of the building March 24, 2015.
Sitting on the corner of Ramsey and Moore streets, the church was built in 1896 to serve a black congregation. It is the second oldest Episcopal church in Fayetteville and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
The church building sustained water and smoke damage throughout and fire damage in the back of the structure. No one was injured in the fire.
“Would this day ever come? Would it reopen?” Skirving recalled thinking as he drove to Fayetteville early in the morning the day after the fire.
As soon as he arrived on the scene, Skirving said he was happy to learn how much support the congregation had already received.
“Local clergy and people from other churches prayed and came together after the fire,” Skirving said.
After telling the Raleigh church he smelled of smoke because he had just came from the scene of the St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church fire, Skirving recalled how that congregation immediately began praying and thinking of ways to help.
Skirving spent the remainder of his sermon urging the congregation to focus on how people can come together, such as they did after the fire, rather than focus on perceived differences in faith.
After Skirving’s sermon, St. Joseph’s handed awards out to various groups that had assisted the congregation after the fire including the Fayetteville Fire Department and the Fayetteville Police Department.
About 10 firefighters attended the service. Assistant Chief Richard Bradshaw accepted two awards on behalf of all the firefighters that worked during the fire.
Source: Fayetteville Observer | Monica Vendituoli