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Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church catches fire

firefighters with religious painting at sheepshead bay united methodist church fire
Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze at Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church early June 8.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

A longstanding Sheepshead Bay church undergoing renovations caught fire early Wednesday morning.

The blaze broke out on the first floor of Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church early June 8. Firefighters responded at around 7:20 am, at which time they discovered smoke billowing from the ground floor of the Ocean Avenue institution.

Fire suppression units used two hose lines to quickly snub out the blaze.

First responders had the fire under control by 7:47 a.m., and there were no reported injuries or people trapped. The cause of the inferno remains under investigation by the fire marshal’s office.

Wednesday morning’s fire mirrored — but was not nearly as bad as — a November 2018 inferno that gutted the nearby Emmanuel Episcopal Church on E. 23rd Street. It also comes as the institution struggles to bounce back from years of financial hardship.

firefighters at sheepshead bay united methodist church
Firefighters battle a blaze at Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

A letter taped to the front of the building boasts United Methodist Church’s deep roots in the southern Brooklyn neighborhood, and asks parishioners to support the house of worship during “very challenging times.”

“Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church has been in the community for over 176 years,” the letter reads, noting that during those years, the church has provided shelter for the city’s homeless, hosted a food pantry and clothing drives and partnered with local organizations like the Boy Scouts to make use of the space.

trash bag on the steps at sheepshead bay united methodist church
Debris outside the Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church on Wednesday morning. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

“The past ten years have been very challenging for us and to our church building. Constant inclement weather — hurricanes, heavy snow falls and rain have caused excessive damage to our old church building. The steeples of the church were badly tilted and became a threat to to the church members and the community,” continues the letter, signed by Kirk VanDyck, trustee chairperson. “Our dwindling membership, mostly retirees, have struggled to meet the financial expectation to fully complete the construction and refurbishing of our church building and sanctuary to enable us to worship.”

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