Once again, not much to report this week. The fire committee continue to gather estimates and proposals for the insurance company to keep the restoration process moving forward as much as possible. Yesterday, the session, trustees and fire committee held a joint meeting via Zoom to discuss the progress and update the boards on the current status and progress. We are hoping Belfor can return and start work again in 2 weeks, but meanwhile work on updating the electrical service in the sanctuary will start and move forward. Some of this work is not going to be included in our insurance claim but makes sense to do while the scaffolding is installed, reducing significantly the cost of the work.
Ken M was kind enough to scan and provide programs from the Calvary celebrations of the 100th and the 150th Anniversaries of the “Dedication of Calvary Presbyterian Church “ I have not had a chance to print these out and read them but there is a lot of history in the documents. We are in the process of uploading the documents to our google docs files and will post a link here when available (If you receive our friends update emails, check the email sent out on 5-1-20 for a temporary link for this download – otherwise bookmark this page and check back later)
Our special music of the week is “Grace” sung by the Calvary Singers at the Habitat for Humanity Talent Show 2018. Click here to view.
The service will be live streaming at 9 AM (or a few minutes after) on our FaceBook page and later in the day on the YouTube Channel and on the website. Following the service Noa and Anne will host a Zoom fellowship hour (bring your own coffee!). The info can’t per posted here to avoid Zoom Bombing – so contact me if you need the info.
A day late and a dollar short! Sorry I did not get a chance to write to you all yesterday, but the day was over before I realized it. There is not a lot to report for the past week. Work at Calvary has been put on hold because of NYS PAUSE, but the fire committee continues to work for the congregation and friends of Calvary by working with American Eagle to get estimates for electrical upgrades and replacement work, with Lamb Studios and North Eastern Studios to get an accurate replacement value for the Ward window and with the insurance company to be sure our settlement is far and accurate.
Planning is in the works for a joint meeting of the Session, Trustees and Fire committee sometime this next week. The meeting will be taking place over Zoom so we can stay safe in our homes. The fire committee meetings have been held over Zoom for the past number of weeks and it has been wonderful to be able to see and communicate with the other members of the committee. Based on my experience with this, I strongly suggest you connect with others in your lives that you are missing using Skype, FaceTime or the like to help make a personal connection that just is not there through text, email or even phone calls. We are all suffering through this but we must be thankful that we can connected through technology. Just imaging how this would have been 100 years ago during the pandemic at that time. I know it is hard to find something to be thankful for right now but it really could be worse.
As far as the continued life of Calvary, you should have received a notification for Pastor J regarding the starting of a second Bible Study group. Meanwhile please remember to join Pastor J tomorrow at 9 am for the Sunday Morning Worship Service on FaceBook live and afterwards on our YouTube channel and our website.
Our special music this week is available on our website and our YouTube channel and is our wonderful musician Joe B on piano with Hallelujah. He posted this on FaceBook for Easter and.I was able to download it and add it our sites. Enjoy!
Scroll to the bottom for pictures taken 4-14-20
Hope this email finds you all healthy and safe, and if not my prayers go out to you for a speedy recovery.
This week work at Calvary has been put on hold by NYS PAUSE. Belfor has completed the entire gutting of fellowship hall from top to bottom. They have scaffolding throughout the sanctuary but the hoped for exemption to allow them to continue working to clean the ceiling area has not materialized. After visiting the building daily and seeing the full, active crew working so hard to move forward, when I went on Tuesday morning it was a lonely place. I will be posting photos on the website and video on YouTube showing how complete the clean up has been and just how deserted it feels tomorrow and will send links when they are uploaded.
Though the Belfor work has been put on hold, work for the fire committee continues. A number of us met with Charlie of American Eagle Electric on Tuesday morning and climbed back up to the dance floor. There we had a very informative conversation about required quotes for necessary rewiring of the electrical work in that area, including upgrading our light fixtures to use LED bulbs, both the flood lights on the sides and the chandeliers. John C, our super intelligent engineer, requested a quote on adding large fans to the ceiling that would break up the layers of temperatures that are present normally in our sanctuary. We all know hot air rises so we have been paying to keep the upper reaches of our building hot while we have to wear sweaters and jackets In the pews. These fans will break up this unequal heating and help keep the entire room equally warm. The end result will be a much more comfortable sanctuary and a savings on our heating bills. Seems like a win/win idea to me.
American Electric has continued working to permanently wire outdoor lighting to replace the temporary, generator run lighting that was installed after the fire as a security measure. Up until now John C and Damian D have been going to the church every evening and morning to turn on and off the temporary lighting. The new lighting will be on a timer and be automatic.
The committee has also continued to research the organ restoration and work with Foley Baker and the insurance company to be sure we get a fair settlement. The obvious goal here is to get our organ back up and working as it was before the fire. If you want to know more about our wonderful instrument, I strongly suggest you talk to Luke P. He is an expert on the Skinner Organ and has been invaluable in getting the correct information as we work on this portion of our claim.
We have also gotten 2 estimates on the value of the melted stained glass window (the Ward Window). One of the companies that were contacted found a lot of unknown information which I want to share with you. The window is not a Tiffany but was created Gorham Studios. Click here for a PDF file of the information provided by Julie Sloan, Consultant on Stained Glass. It is an interesting read.
We are also working to get a copy of the inventory completed by the insurance company but that has not yet arrived.
So even though work within the building has come to a halt, working to keep our claim moving forward has not. The fire committee continues to do our best to get the Calvary building back to where we can meet again, once we are allowed to meet.
Now looking forward. Sunday’s special music will be Ain’t Got Time To Die, sung by the Calvary Singers at the Habitat for Humanity Talent show in 2018 and videoed by Wendy S. This will be available on our YouTube channel tomorrow after noon and remain there afterwards. So as last week be sure to visit and listen before or after Pastor J’s service Sunday at 9am on our Facebook page.
And don’t forget to come to Worship Service at 9AM on the Facebook page. Last week we had some technical difficulties but hoping all goes smoothly this week.
Wednesday Bible Study continues – 12:30 via zoom. Contact Peter S for more info.
In addition to adding a second Bible Study the Session and the Fire Committee are discussing how to provide opportunities for “virtual” coffee hour or other times of conversation to help keep us connected. Watch for opportunities. In fact, Peter S sent the following message regarding Bible Study earlier today. I am repeating it here in case you missed it.
If you are interested in joining a Bible Study of Calvary folks please respond to me, Peter Surgenor, or Rev. Lewis. We will work to find a time that will fit as many schedules as possible. We use a Zoom.us meeting as a platform – it is possible to join by video call or simply using your phone alone.
The Wednesday Bible Study has been going on so long and has reached a level of intimacy that new members are not being added at this time.
We hope that you have been reading Sue Young’s weekly updates about the church building (how ironic that while the building is not available to us we are not available to use the building! ). Work has stopped in response to the Governor’s Covid 19 safety order. In this hiatus time the Fire Committee continues to work to think ahead and take advantage of options. Watch for opportunities to voice your thoughts about next steps for Calvary Presbyterian Church.
Eastertide Greetings. May God be with you.
Rev. Peter S
Love and hugs to you all. Hope to virtually see you Sunday at the service.
I hope this Good Friday finds you and all of your family and friends near and far, healthy and happy. Prayers go out to everyone that is sick with Covid19 for a quick and lasting recovery.
Here is your update for the week – sorry as I reread this it appears to be random thoughts. Guess I am having a problem concentrating today.
The article mentioned in last week’s update appeared in the Times Harold Record and on their website here and their pictures are here. I told Lana, the reporter, the story of the “Christmas bell that could” and she is going to cover that story in a different section in the future. I am trusting those eagle-eyed persons that read the paper will update us when they see that article.
I visited last on Wednesday. Videos are on the YouTube channel and pics are below, scroll down.
Belfor has completed the demolition of fellowship hall. Jim F visited this morning on his usual mail run to find the building completely empty of workers. This is the first work day for this to happen since the fire on March 5th, leaving the building sad and lonely. Who would have thought only about 6 weeks ago that we would not be meeting in our sanctuary and fellowship hall to celebrate this Holy Season? So many changes in such as short time. But there are good things to come. It is unclear as of yet if Belfor will be able to return next week to start the cleaning of the sanctuary ceiling and upper walls as this will be the next plans for their work. This depends on the current New York State PAUSE requirements. But rest assured Geoff of Belfor will do all that he can to keep moving forward. Meanwhile the committee is gathering proposals for restoration of the organ, cleaning of the stained glass and other work that need to be completed.
During the week, Charlie of CDR Alarm System has all been hard at work to complete the connections for our wired and permanent alarm system. It is repaired and working. American Eagle Electricians were at the location when I was there Wednesday working to make our outdoor lighting of the building a permanent feature and the temporary lighting with generators that was installed as a security measure a couple of days after the fire will soon be removed. So our beautiful church will continue to be a beacon in the neighborhood both day and night.
Jim F has reported that the mail box at the church, through the mail slot in the South Street door has been reinstalled and it is now safe to deposit envelopes there. He will be recovering the mail each morning. So if you want to drop off your tithe in your offering envelope, it will be safely delivered to Helen.
Please join Pastor J at 9am Sunday for Easter Service via FaceBook live. And afterwards, it will be available here on the website and our YouTube channel.
There will be a Virtual Handbell Performance available on our YouTube channel tomorrow afternoon as our special music for Easter. It is a photo montage of some of my photography set to a recording of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, preformed by the Calvary Ringers a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy it. I will send an announcement with a link once it is uploaded, It is about 5 minutes long so if you want to enjoy it as a prelude to tomorrow’s service be sure to visit is early enough so you don’t miss the service at 9 am.
Bible Study meets 12:30 pm on Wednesdays – via Zoom. Contact me, Damian D or Pastor J for info to access. (Who know? zoom-bombing is a thing so we can’t broadcast the connection info for this)
I hope everyone has a safe and healthy Easter. Be sure to virtually visit with those that you can’t be together with. We are all isolated and need the connections.
(Scroll down to see photos)
Not much to report this week. Asbestos removal took place from Saturday through Wednesday. Belfor Restoration returned in full force in spite of the Covid19 quarantine. Their work fits one of the categories that is allowed to continue working. This is great for their workers because they don’t suffer lost wages and we really gain because they continue to make dramatic advancement in the clean up after the fire. It is also great for the Calvary family because it gets us closer to the day that our church building will be whole again. They are primarily focusing their efforts in the clean up of the basement. When I visited yesterday there was a constant flow of workers going in and out of the basement door removing the damage caused by water.
Yesterday I met with Kelly, a photographer of the Times Herald Record to take photos for Lana, the reporter who covered the fire back on March 5th. Kris, my daughter and I showed her around the building pointing out the major changes in the building. Then we went to the sanctuary with the goal of going up the scaffolding steps to the “dance floor”. Kris made it up about 3 steps and she was out. Kelly made it up to the first platform before her fear of heights kicked in. But I made it to the top!!! Exhilarating. I was able to take some photos while there to share with the Record and to post on the website. It is quite a different view of the organ than I have even seen. And I got to check out the stained glass window way up over the pulpit. I am happy to report that the window is not is as bad shape as it looks from the floor. It is just quite dirty. In the afternoon I did a phone interview with Lana and she will be doing a follow up article telling the good news of our progress. I will post the link to the story when it appears.
John C also visited the church this week and shared videos, including on the dance floor. Visit the YouTube page to see his great videography. Thanks John, for sharing your work.
Sunday it will be a month since the fire at Calvary and so much has happened since then. Remember, the days when we used to get together and greet each other with a hug? Yep – that was only a month ago, but it seems so much longer. I hope you are all surviving these challenging and often lonely times. I encourage you to think of those that you care about or have touched your life in any way and reach out to them. We all need to be in contact, even though we can’t physically get close.
Looking for something to do while you are staying home? Pastor J is resuming the Wednesday Bible Study via zoom. Peter S has provided the following instructions to join in. Start time is 12:30 so be sure to download the software early, it takes a few minutes to set it up. You don’t want to be late. (Don’t worry this is very easy to do.). This will be a great use of technology and provide an interactive Bible Study. You don’t have any excuse now, it’s not like you have to go to work (lol).
Scripture for April 1, 2020. Mark 10-1-16
Once you receive the information, click the link or copy and paste into a browser window . This will take you to Zoom where you will need to download their software, so do that well before the meeting. At meeting time (12:30pm or a few minutes before) click on the link again and it will take you to the meeting.
You can also call in at and take part on your phone.
Here are some photos showing the progress this week. To see videos with more coverage visit our YouTube Channel. I have uploaded videos every day showing the progress. I am sure you will be amazed. Scroll down to read this week’s update.
Tuesday March 24, 2020
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Friday, March 27, 2020
I hope this update finds everyone health, happy and not to stir crazy! Even though many have been staying home and safe, the work at Calvary continues fast and furiously.
We started the week peacefully with Pastor J leading worship via Facebook Live with voice, keyboard, meditation and prayer with Cynthia L acting as technician and camera person. Tomorrow’s service will be streamed live through Facebook at 9 AM and afterwards will be posted on our YouTube channel and on our website. You can visit calvarypresbychurch.org for information to log on to Facebook live or to view the video afterwards (and see previous weeks’ services). Be sure to like the Calvary Facebook page to join in.
But then the pace was picked up when restoration at the church continued on Monday. In spite of the rapidly changing state rules regarding essential businesses and the closing down of those that are not, Belfor was able to continue their work. By Wednesday the busy crew had completely stripped the main room of Fellowship Hall to the cinderblock walls and steel beams. Work began upstairs and by Friday all of the walls and ceilings were removed leaving only the studs and the bathrooms. They also cleaned the basement in preparation for the necessary asbestos removal. This process started yesterday with the taping off to isolate the affected areas (kitchen floor and back corner ceiling) and today the asbestos clean up started. Be aware no one can go into the Fellowship Hall until this is completed on Wednesday or Thursday.
When I visited the church yesterday, the entire sanctuary was full of scaffolding, allowing workers access to the highest area in the space. All across the top section is a wooden floor that the workers put in to allow the crew to safely work. They call this the dance floor. Even with this in place 10 foot ladders will be required to reach the highest points for cleaning and painting. Geoff, the head of the Belfor crew, told the fire committee at our Zoom meeting this morning that there is about a ¾ inch layer of dust on the ceiling and beams which they will be cleaning before painting. As an allergy sufferer, I will truly appreciate this clean up! It is estimated that this scaffolding will be in place for two months during which time the Belfor crew will clean and paint and the crew from Lamb Studio will clear our stained glass windows. It is hoped that the organ restoration will begin shortly and coincide with this work
The fire committee continues to work with Geoff and the insurance company, submitting estimates for work by Lamb Studios for the stained glass cleaning, for Lime Electric to replace our lighting with LED technology and others. The proposed work to upgrade to LED will be subsidized by 50% by Central Hudson.
One more update completed this week is that CDR Alarm company has completed repairing our alarm system and we now have a fully functioning wired alarm system, covering all access areas and motion detection within the entire structure.
Looking forward, Geoff has been advised the construction services are no longer considered essential business but is hoping the he will be able to start work in the Sanctuary possibly as building cleaning and maintenance or construction for safety purposes. I may not have that exact but Geoff is looking for a loop hole to keep our progress moving forward.
My prayers go up for all of our Calvary friends and family that you are all happy and health.
I mentioned in a previous post that our fabric Christmas Bell has survived the fire. It was stored in a narrow cabinet space above the handicapped bathroom. This storage area was created specifically by Jim F to store the bell and keep it safe. Well little did Jim know just how well this protection would work.
When I got to the church on Friday I noticed that the crew was entrenched in removing the bathroom walls and that the storage area was no more. I asked Geoff of Belfor what was left of the bell figuring it would be little more than charred fabric and melted PVC. To my shock he told me that his workers moved it to the sanctuary. And sure enough, there it was. The cover looked a bit gray but after opening the edge I found the bell to be in perfect condition, albeit smokey.
Yesterday I was able to open it up completely, remove the PVC and bring the cover and fabric home for washing. The green fabric washed beautifully and only needs ironing (and I’m putting that off!), The cover though was very gray on the bottom and one laundering did not cut it. Soaked it the tub with Oxiclean for a while and rewashed it and now it is much better. I am going to give it to Belfor for “desmokeafying”.
As I was spreading the cover out for it to completely dry, I found 2 spots where it actually had burn marks. We need to look for little miracles, now more than ever with the fire and the larger issue of the virus, I will found this as one of the small ones.
Wow! What a week! In spite of the threat of Covid19, work at Calvary has been happening at a frantic pace. Here’s the latest news for the week of March 13 – 20. (Thank you to Peter S for organizing this information which has been a big help to me)
The week started out with Jim F working his magic as he managed to get Central Hudson to come and reconnect the electricity. Up until then we were working with temporary power provided by the work of American Eagle run off the temporary lighting set up outside the week before with the help of John and Jack C.
On Friday, March 13, Belfor Restoration was on site to install heavy duty extension cords and set up air filters, dehumidifiers and temporary lights inside so the space would be safer to begin the arduous task of the clean up.. That evening, the Fire Committee met at Union Presbyterian Church to catch up, consider options and make plans for moving ahead.
Saturday, in the midst of the debris of Fellowship hall Roy P, Carol L and Sue Y worked to salvage pieces of the stained glass window that was on the stage. There have been rumors about this window being a Tiffany but based on records and an inspection of the remnants of the glass and lead, it is more likely that this window was the creation of John LaForge or Donald McDonald. This window was originally installed in the Calvary Presbyterian Church located on Liberty Street. When First Presbyterian and Calvary joined congregations, the window was moved to what was its locaton in fellowship hall. This would have been in the mid 1900s. The window was most likely created in the late 1890s to the early 1900s. What remains of the window has been put in wooden trays for storage but is completely destroyed from the intense heat and cannot be restored.
Our Sunday Morning service on March 15th was attended by 4 people worshiping at Best Temple. Damian D worked with Pastor J to use Facebook to livestream the service so it could be viewed live by members and friends of Calvary . The service included a prelude of singing and piano by Pastor J . He then shared an inspirational message. Afterwards those present joined in prayer for our community and the world. The video has been added to our YouTube page. It is available there and on our website for folks to continue to worship along with it and continue to be an outreach to our faith community.
On Monday, an inventory firm was on site counting and logging all of the contents in the building lost as a result of the fire. Jim and Helen F assisted in this task to assure everything was being reported to the insurance company.
Tuesday, March 17, Befor Restoration under the direction of Geoff arrived, set up 2 large dumpsters and a truck and began removing the soggy debris from Fellowship Hall. This work continued through out the day on Wednesday when a larger crew from Belfor arrived. They began removing furniture for cleaning or disposal. Two and a half 30 yard dumpsters were filled and removed that day. Jim F reported that a neighborhood church was able to salvage much needed folding chairs and tables (covered for us under the insurance) before they were thrown into the dumpster. Jim states “They were very grateful – I guess blessings come in all sizes.”
Also on Wednesday, Luke P, John C and Sue Y met with Odell, the insurance company adjuster for the musical instruments. They looked at the 3 pianos first. The one in the basement suffered water damage, the one in fellowship hall, as you can see from the pictures, is toast (sorry had to say that) but the grand piano in the sanctuary is in good shape, just will need cleaning from smoke damage. The group then went to the organ loft to examine the Skinner Organ. Odell checked out the great, the swell and the console and the bellows in the tower and has determined the the entire organ will need to be completely cleaned, inside and out. The fire committee has already been working with Foley Baker, the company who has been working on the organ over the years and have gotten their estimate for the work. We are awaiting Odell’s final report which he will be submitting to the insurance company. The fire committee will be getting competitive bids for the required work based on this report from other qualified organ companies. It was a great discussion, with Luke P and expert on our Skinner and other instruments of similar design and John C with his analytical engineering mind, Odell knows we are aware of what we have and that we want to protect it.
On Thursday, three more dumpsters of smoked debris were removed as the interior walls of Fellowship Hall were dismantled. Peter S and I met with David of Lamb Stained Glass for them to provide a quote for cleaning of our stained glass windows and to determine a value of the window that was on the stage. We also checked the back side of the rose window (the Martha and Mary window) and found it to be in excellent shape. This is amazing because the “outside” of this window in boxed in on the 2nd floor of fellowship hall and could have easily been smoke or heat damaged from the fire. David commented that this is a beautiful window and probably was created in England.
Started on Thursday and continued on Friday was the erection of scaffolding in the sanctuary. This will allow workers access to the highest points of the building for cleaning and painting. The clearstory stained glass windows will be cleaned while this scaffolding is up.
By Friday afternoon, fellowship hall has been stripped to the cinderblock walls. Work will continue next week to gut the second floor, leaving only the restrooms untouched. The basement which has water damage is also slated for work on the wall between the kitchen and the large school room.
One of the most exciting moments for me (Sue Y) this week was discovering that the Christmas bell survived the fire. When I was getting ready to leave church this morning I happened to notice that the workers were opening up the area over our handicapped bathrooms. Realizing that the Christmas bell had been stored there I asked Geoff of Belfor what happened to the bell that had been stored there. I completely expected it to be a lump of melted PVC and fabric soot. You can imagine my shock when he told me that it was in the sanctuary on the pews. Sure enough there it was. The cover was a bit smudged but the bell was intact within. All it will take is laundering the fabric and some new PVC and it will be as good as new.
A lot has happened in the past week. If you have a chance feel free to stop by the church and see the work for yourself. For those who cannot make it I have included the pictures so you can more understand what is happening.
The fire committee has been busy since being appointed at a joint meeting of the Session and Trustees on Sunday, March 8. The committee met yesterday evening to coordinate efforts over the past week. Here is an update on what has been happening.
A temporary security system was donated and installed by Safe and Sound , New Windsor, NY to help secure the building until our usual security company, CDR Security can repair and update our existing security system. Once that is done, Safe and Sound is going to donate a security camera system. Thanks so much to Dan from Safe and Sound. We still have an armed guard protecting the church at night and bright lights have been added to illuminate the building (check it out, the church looks beautiful at night).
A list of other donations received to date has been added to the website and will be updated as monies, service and goods are received. Check it out here. Most importantly we are grateful to the Newburgh Fire Department and all of the firefighters from Castle Point, Cronomer Valley, West Point, Stewart Air National Guard and Beacon for responding so quickly, confining the fire to the fellowship hall and putting the fire out before more damage was done.
The cause of the fire is still not clear but the claims adjuster from Travelers Insurance has given approval to start work in the building. Belfor Property Restoration has been retained to work with the insurance company, doing the clean up of the church and fellowship hall. Even though the fire confined to the main room of fellowship hall, the entire structure suffered smoke damage from the highest peak of the ceiling in the sanctuary to the basement in fellowship hall – and there is water damage too. Electrical power has been returned to part of fellowship hall which will allow clean up to start. Temporary lighting has been installed.
Our phone system suffered damage and Peter S is meeting with Verizon today to try to get it back up and functioning. Upon completion of the repairs, the church phone number will forwarded to Helen “F who is continuing to work from home until temporary office space can be set up at 120 South Street.
This morning, Sue Y, Roy P and Carol L will be working to peel back the layers of the stained glass window on the stage. Next week members of the fire committee will meet with Lamb Stained Glass Studios to look at this damaged window and examine the rose window (the Mary and Martha window above the pulpit area) to see what damage may have been done to it. They will provide the necessary appraisals for the insurance company with a quote for cleaning of all of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary of smoke damage. We will also be provided an appraisal of all of the windows to document the value of them for future reference.
Also next week. the committee will be meeting with someone to help start the inventory of the lost and damaged contents and with Odell to access the damaged pianos, the organ and the handbells. We already have a proposal from Foley-Baker Organ Restoration for cleaning and repair of the organ and will be getting one from Schulmerich Handbells for our handbell cases.
We have a long road ahead but as you can see we are moving forward. As John C said at the joint meeting, “How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time.” and we working bite by bite,