Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, VA, held their Easter worship in a local synagogue this week. The congregation at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue invited their neighbors to use their worship space while Grace recovers from damage suffered during an earthquake in 2011.
On Easter Sunday, the great hall of Grace Episcopal Church was quiet. The choir wasn’t singing, the Rector wasn’t preaching and Sunday school wasn’t ending because it hadn’t begun in the 166-year-old building in almost a year.
Last August, an earthquake centered in Virginia shook the congregation out of their home at Grace Episcopal in downtown Charleston.
Instead of pews, there’s scaffolding. Red ‘danger, do not enter’ tape covers the hall instead Easter decorations.
“It just hurts,” said Virginia Donehue, Sunday morning. “It would be like your house caught fire and you had to live somewhere else until you get it fixed up. We just want to go home.”
Donehue says the 5.8 magnitude earthquake weakened the limestone mortar holding bricks in the walls together. The re-construction of the Church goes back to the years after the great earthquake of 1886.
That earthquake did much more damage than the most recent shake but because of safety reasons, church members were forced to worship elsewhere until renovations to support the structure are complete.
That’s why on Easter Sunday 2012, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) Synagogue two blocks away was filled with grace.
“It has been really special to be at the Synagogue this morning,” said Donehue.
Although the religions have there differences, Rector Michael Wright says he gladly accepted the Synagogue’s invitation to worship not only this past Christmas but on Easter Sunday.
“We get a real sense of community on this Easter day,” said Wright. “We’re not a community divided. We’re a community united.”