In Bend church fire's wake: 'All will be well'

Shocked Triinity Episcopal leaders, members reel from tragedy

POSTED: 12:30 PM PDT March 11, 2013    UPDATED: 12:36 PM PST March 7, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

The string of fires early Wednesday morning did extensive damage to the Trinity Episcopal Church and their building next door, St. Helens Hall that houses the Family Kitchen, where they serve hundreds of hot meals to the community.

A small crowd gathered Wednesday morning behind the yellow crime scene tape, recalling special moments in the church such as baptisms, funerals, and for Carol Zeigler, her wedding.

"It was in '54," said Zeigler. "I wore my mother's and grandmother's wedding dress."

But now those happy memories are flooded with a harsh realization: Someone may have set fire to their place of worship. Broken windows, blackened walls and a caving roof are left behind.

"It makes me angry," said Zeigler. "I don't know why people have to get their kicks by hurting people. They're sick."

And perhaps the people hurt the most are those who were threatened with losing a hot meal. Family Kitchen served more than 50,000 meals just last year. Lunch for the homeless is given out three times a week and dinner is served up twice a week.

"I'm just shocked that someone would do this," said Family Kitchen Program Coordinator Cindy Tidball. "What an awful thing for somebody to do. I just can't believe it. I am really just in shock."

But the goodness of others in the community also shone through.

All four Subways in Bend donated two platters of sandwiches, so that Family Kitchen volunteers could still hand out food to the homeless in a sort of impromptu tailgate. ServiceMaster of Bend and Hooker Creek donated time and equipment to get generators running, to hopefully save five freezers and three refrigerators full of food.

Rev. Roy Green says in all of his time, he's never seen anything like this happen to his own church.

"It makes me angry," said Green. "You feel wounded and violated. But we're in the resurrection business. So we will gather 'round, come close and get through this, and rebuild."

As the smoke lifted, all the church members had to do was look up at the cross still standing tall atop the building, by the damaged roof, to know their faith was not swayed by tragedy.

"All will be well," said Green. "It will be a bumpy road for awhile, but all will be well."

"I do know we'll get it fixed -- it'll be perfect again," Zeigler said.

Family Kitchen will still be serving dinner Thursday night and lunch and dinner on Friday. Moving forward, it will be at the nearby First Methodist Church on Bond Street in downtown Bend.

If you would like to help, or donate you can email info@familykitchen.org.

Lutheran Community Services provides The Community Counseling Center, which operates on the second floor of the NW Idaho building, offering counseling to lower-income children and families. The Bend Public Library has offered alternative space for meetings with clients for the next couple of weeks, officials say. Their contact info is 541-323-5330.