Day school to re-open by next week

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Westport Presbyterian Church pastor Rev. Scott Meyers said, "The church may have burned down, but the congregation didn't."

The pastor at Westport Presbyterian Church is assuring his congregation Thursday's massive fire will not ruin Sunday's service.

Meyers said Second Presbyterian Church at 55th and Oak Strett is inviting the congregation to attend a service this Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

"The church may have burned down, but the congregation didn't," Meyers said.  "We're going to continue to send out a message of love in this city."

Fire officials estimate the damage to cost $3 to $4 million.

"This is probably the most terrible thing I have ever experienced in my whole pastoral," Meyers said.  "And I've been a minister for close to 30 years."

Meyers says the community has really come forward with support.

"It's like a person who's lost their mother or their father or their child and is at the funeral, and all these people are around them," Meyers said.  "You just feel the love."

Meyers says his primary focus is now on the kids at Willow Woods, the early learning center just feet away from the church.

Pre-k teacher Kaitlyn Symsek was there when the fire started.

"We just grabbed as many kids as we could and grabbed their coats and shoes because we didn't know how long we'd be outside," Symsek said.

The kids had just met with firefighters about a month ago, and had been practicing their fire drills.

"The kids have really remembered what they taught them and what they need to do if this happened," Symsek said.

All 11 kids and four adults made it out safely.

Crews worked well into the night Friday building a walkway between the church and school.  Crews say the walkway includes a canopy which will protect workers from falling pieces of church.

Crews say will have electricity restored to the school by 11 p.m. Friday.  They will continue cleaning the items that were damaged by smoke, and say the school will likely re-open by the middle of next week.

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