Tacoma church celebrates Christmas in new home

TACOMA — Like other Tacoma congregations, Christians at Eastside Baptist Church are celebrating Christmas morning. But besides their joy of the holiday, members of Eastside Baptist also are grateful to have their own church home again.

Twenty months ago, their building was reduced to ashes by a fire of suspicious origin. Since the blaze in April 2008, they worshipped in another church’s gym a mile away, vowing to rebuild.

On Christmas morning, the church hosted a community-wide service in their new 250-seat sanctuary.

“It feels good to be home,” LaQuita Moore told The News Tribune. “To be home on Jesus’ birthday is wonderful. That’s the icing on the cake.”

The new 10,000-square-foot building is about 20 percent larger than the one that burned. It has a kitchen, multipurpose room, three offices and six classrooms. Two classrooms were filled with clothing and toys before Christmas, part of the church’s outreach to the community.

“It’s an awesome Christmas gift,” said Karl Banks, 33, an associate minister and son of Eastside’s pastor, the Rev. Arthur Banks. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

A nearly 4-foot-tall wooden cross hangs on a wall in the new foyer. It’s the lone remnant from a wall of the old church and a symbol of inspiration for members.

“They thought it was a sign from God that the cross hadn’t burned and we needed to rebuild,” said Herbert Jones, 67, chairman of the church’s board of deacons.

The new church has an automatic sprinkler system and upgraded fire alarms now required by code.

For 20 months, the congregation gathered for Sunday worship in the gymnasium of nearby Bethlehem Baptist Church. They moved into the new church Dec. 6, and will dedicate it Sunday.

The new building cost about $1.6 million, Arthur Banks said. The church’s insurance paid about $1.3 million, including the required sprinkler and alarm system. Part of the money went to pay off $300,000 left on the mortgage for the old church, he said. The church raised money and took out a loan to cover the remaining costs.

The exact cause of the fire that began in the church attic in the early morning of April 21, 2008, remains a mystery. The church was a total loss, causing an estimated $925,000 damage.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood man arrested, released on $25K bond after road rage shooting

Deputies arrested the suspect, 20, for investigation of first-degree assault on Tuesday.

Mt. Baker visible from the summit of Mt. Dickerman on a late summer day in 2017. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Hornets pester hikers on popular Mountain Loop trails

“You cannot out run the stings,” one hiker wrote in a trip report. The Forest Service has posted alerts at two trailheads.

Emergency responders surround an ultralight airplane that crashed Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Washington, resulting in the pilot's death. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Pilot dead in ultralight plane crash at Arlington Municipal Airport

There were no other injuries or fatalities reported, a city spokesperson said.

Patrick Russell, left, Jill Russell and their son Jackson Russell of Lake Stevens enjoy Dick’s burgers on their way home from Seattle on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. The family said the announcement of the Dick’s location in Everett “is amazing” and they will be stopping by whenever it opens in 2025. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dick’s Drive-In announces new south Everett location

The local burger legend announced Friday it plans to open the south Everett location on Center Road in 2025.

Most Read