Westport Presbyterian looks back, ahead one year after fire


Almost a year after a fire destroyed much of the Westport Presbyterian Church, its members are both looking back to the fire and ahead to a renewed commitment to church activities.

The congregation of the Westport Presbyterian Church plans to get together next week to reflect on the past year, a particularly difficult one.

A year ago, fire severely damaged the church building at 201 Westport Road, causing an estimated $6-7 million in damages.

The congregation will get together for a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. on December 29.

“This vigil gives us the opportunity to reflect on a trying year for the congregation and the community,” Rev. Scott Myers said. “When the fire damaged the building, it made the church stronger and renewed our commitment to the neighborhood.”

The following day, December 30, the congregation will gather on Sunday morning to review design concepts for the rebuilding of the church. Architects from the firm BNIM will show several designs to the public and ask for feedback.


The church on the day after the fire in 2011.

“Fires are devastating,” Myers said this week.  But the 80-member congregation never considered leaving Westport after the fire. “We’ve been in Westport for 175 years,” he said.

In fact, Myers said the church has made a renewed commitment to providing services in Westport. Since the fire, Westport Presbyterian has done a community needs assessment. It found needs have shifted because while Westport once was home to more senior citizens, today, the average person living in Westport is 18-30 years old, not married and not making much income.

Therefore, the church has recommitted to serving young adults, the homeless, and the teenagers who come into Westport. It is also considering adding a storefront to the rebuilt church where outreach programs could be provided.

The church has been operating out of space at The Villa of Kansas City at 4120 Baltimore. But it is getting ready to rebuild beginning as early as next summer. Two years from now, the church could be back in operation on the original site.

Although some of the original walls still stand, rebuilding requires code upgrades to the century-old building.

But, Myers said, “the church will continue to be a center for spiritual and community life” in Westport.

Westport Presbyterian events

Dec. 29, 5 p.m. candlelight vigil and singing, 201 Westport Road

Dec. 30, 9:30 a.m. The Villa, 4120 Baltimore, unveiling of architects’ concepts for rebuilding

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