There’s still carpet to be cleaned, painting to complete, drywall and insulation to install, and windows and a roof to be replaced.
But the Bulla Youth Center – a multipurpose building owned by historic Edenton Street United Methodist Church across the street – will be ready Sunday morning to host the church’s weekly Southeast Raleigh service. Just over a week ago, the building received extensive fire and water damage from the nearby blaze at the under-construction Metropolitan apartment building.
“We’re thrilled to be able to worship Sunday,” said Rush Beam, director of youth ministries for Edenton Street. “When I think about where the building was last Friday, I just think we’re so lucky that the building is still standing. ... We are just counting our blessings.”
We’re thrilled to be able to worship Sunday. When I think about where the building was last Friday, I just think we’re so lucky that the building is still standing.
Rush Beam, director of youth ministries for Edenton Street United Methodist Church
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Each Sunday at the Bulla Youth Center, at the intersection of Edenton and Jones streets, 40 middle-schoolers and 60 high-schoolers gather in second-floor rooms for Sunday School. Youth activities are held there each Sunday night.
And this weekend, the center was scheduled to host an annual youth retreat. Although the center will be ready for Sunday’s worship service, the all-weekend retreat is taking place in the chapel at the main church building instead, Beam said.
It’s easy to see how young people would be receptive to Beam, whose neatly-trimmed beard, cool eyeglasses and red sneakers exude an urban hipster cool. The brightly colored, sunny, modern youth center is a place where Beam and his staff create fun activities, including an “all-nighter” over the Christmas break.
Edenton Street, which has two traditional services and two contemporary services in its main building each Sunday, has branched out in recent years to serve other groups, too. One of those, Church on Morgan on nearby Morgan Street, is aimed at young adults. The second is geared toward residents of Southeast Raleigh’s traditionally African American neighborhoods.
The Southeast Raleigh service is still looking for its facility. In the meantime, it has been meeting each Sunday in the Bulla Youth Building since last fall.
The services are led by the Rev. Lisa Yebuah. One Feb. 17, one month before the downtown fire, she began her sermon with a quote by the poet Maya Angelou that captured the spirit of the church’s outreach.
“Love recognizes no barriers,” Yebuah said. “It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination, full of hope.”
James Montague, who works with the church’s parking security, described the scene during the March 16 blaze as “a fireball just like you see at the movies.”
The fire cracked the windows of a second-floor room on the north wing of the youth center and melted hard-plastic signs on the building’s exterior. Thousands of gallons of water from firefighter’s hoses drenched the roof and caused significant damage inside.
Soaked ceiling tiles crashed to the floor, insulation and drywall was ruined, and debris was everywhere.
“There was the tear-out part, the put-back part and then the cleaning,” said Sam James, a PHC Restoration employee who was working to clean the center Friday morning. “They’re going to have Sunday services, and that’s what we are preparing for.”