Hillside – More than 50 attendees of the Hillside Bible Church gathered on the morning of Sunday, June 10 in front of the rubble of their church building, which had been destroyed about 16 hours prior by a sudden fire.
Smoke still rose from a few hot spots in the background – according to one churchgoer, the smoke rose from the church pulpit, a piece of carpentry made from solid oak wood.
As people milled around, Pastor Tim Goold gathered his flock together and opened with a prayer.
“Heavenly Father, this is a different plan than what we planned. But we know You take the rough things in our life and turn them good,” he began.
At times speaking through tears, Pastor Goold finished the prayer and introduced the church board, some who spoke and echoed similar thoughts – that the church would move forward. One praised the pastor’s leadership.
There were more tears, and laughter, too – the church leadership had been concerned the week prior that parking would be difficult because of construction happening in the church basement. “I didn’t think it was gonna be this,” said Pastor Goold, gesturing to the crowd standing in the church parking lot, eliciting laughter from the crowd. Vehicles were parked in the lawn across the street and on the side of Clapshaw Hill Road.
Pastor Goold introduced his wife, Bonnie Goold, who read a poem crafted after the fire by their son-in-law Joshua Elliot, a pastor from Colorado.
According to Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, investigators determined that the fire was sparked by an electrical failure in a void space between the basement of the 118-year-old church and the main floor.
It burned quickly – within minutes of fire crews arriving on scene, the church, built in 1900, collapsed.
When asked about their future plans, Pastor Goold simply said “We’re just gonna move forward,” and gestured to the dozens gathered in the parking lot, a heavy rain beginning to come down.
“Here’s the church.”