• Memphis pastor sees hope following devastating Notre Dame Cathedral fire

    By: Tony Atkins

    Updated:

    Thirteen years ago, the chapel at First United Methodist suffered the same fate as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

    Today, the Memphis church is re-open in full form and leaders look forward to the future of Notre Dame.

    Pastor Andy Rambo of First United Methodist is preparing for his first Easter Sunday in his church’s new $3.5 million chapel. It is a day he once doubted would ever come.

    “He may provide a new space, container or shell, but the ministry continues and what God is doing continues,” said Rambo.

    It’s a testimony with serious credibility.


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    “When I came on as pastor, I really didn’t think it would be a possibility to raise that much money,” Rambo said.

    Back in 2006, the chapel was swallowed by flames as it burned to the ground in Downtown Memphis.

    A new frame was built three years later but the church couldn’t afford to do anything else for nearly a decade. 

    “It has been that steel frame for many years going until that point,” said Rambo.

    In the wake of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, Rambo remembers that the century-old church he leads persevered.

    During holy week, days before Resurrection Sunday, Rambo believes that church too can rise from the ashes. 

    “It’s exciting because Easter is about celebrating new life and resurrection. In a small way, we’re experiencing new life in our sanctuary,” said Rambo.  “I hope the people in Paris can, in the midst of holy week, can see at least a little bit of the hope that comes from Easter in the midst of destruction.”

    First United Methodist opened its doors to this new chapel last August. They're hoping to host many more Easters in the years to come.

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