No answers yet on Zion fire, future


By Jim Poole

Two months after a fire devastated Cobleskill’s Zion Lutheran Church, the congregation is anxious to see what step to take next.
Members are waiting on a report from insurance adjusters, but one of them has COVID, so the report will be delayed, Pastor Sara Litzner said Friday.
Except for a boarded window, the Main Street church looks solid from the sidewalk, but the interior’s a mess.
The November 7 fire was the second serious blaze at the church. A lightning strike set the steeple on fire in Feburary 2017, though it was replaced a year later.
And now, the pandemic and another fire.
“With the pandemic, the fire was a huge hit,” said Pastor Litzner.
She’s holding services via conference calls, “but it’s not the same.”
The sanctuary is heavily damaged, and there’s a large hole where the organ stood.
“The floor is all charred. . .it’s not safe,” Pastor Litzner said. “The huge hemlock timbers are charred all the way through. They seem sturdy, but they’re not.
“It is devastating. The extent of damage is tremendous.”
The congregation was doing well maintaining the large church, including repairing the stone masonry in front.
This job is much larger. The first determination from the insurance adjusters is whether the church can be repaired, and second, at what price.
When the congregation couldn’t gather in the church after the steeple fire, they met in the nearby Head Start building, the former Aker School.
With the pandemic, that’s not possible now.
The church council will decide how to move forward after the pandemic is over, Pastor Litzner said.
“Right now, we’re doing the best we can,” she added.
The congregation was in the process of subdividing the next-door parish house, expecting to sell the home. Pastor Litzner is unsure how those plans stand now.
“Nobody wants to live next to a burned-out building,” she said.