Be an Angel; Donate to Help Rebuild After the Fire, Please (We Did)

Angel shaped flame over fire than consumed outbuildings but not the sanctuary of a church

Some people watching Friday morning claimed an angel-shaped flame rose over the burning building. Is that what you see? [Photo by John Perricone]

Early Friday morning, flames from a burning RV spread to the outbuildings and then the actual sanctuary of the Presbyterian Church in Garberville, Ca. Firefighters risked their lives to stop the spread of the flames and protect the buildings that contained everything from a spiritual center to a community food bank to a preschool to a flea market to a martial arts studio to a shelter for the homeless when temperatures dipped to near freezing.

The fire destroyed many important sections of the church and damaged others. The start of the fire in an RV parked on a public street near the buildings is believed suspicious and is still under investigation.

For years, the church has offered help to the poorest in the community as well as offering a musical venue and functioning as a spiritual center. The members have been heralded as angels who have helped those in need.

Britt Mueller-Anderson who grew up attending the Community Presbyterian Church of Garberville has started a fundraiser to help. “I was baptized in that Church,” she explained. “I attended it every Sunday until I moved away for college, and I attend it every time I’m back in town to visit family.”

Though Mueller-Anderson no longer lives in the area, she says she offered to set up the GoFundMe “because most of the congregation are still in shock and have their hands full.” The current congregation, she said, 

is essentially a tiny group of Elders and Deacons, as most of the children who were raised in the Church (such as myself) have moved away…My father, Clif Anderson, is a Church Elder and often preaches on Sunday (the Church has no permanent Reverend, so the Elders give the Sermons). My mother, Patti Burke-Anderson, is a Church Deacon. Both are active in the Church’s community programs, especially the Food Bank and the Flea Market.

She explained, “I am also one of the only millennials still involved with the Church, so I thought I could at least help out in this small way by managing the online campaign for them. All funds will go directly to the Church.”

Below is the plan for the donations that come in as outlined by Mueller-Anderson.

Money raised by this campaign will go towards the following goals:
– Clear away the damaged portion of the building so Stepping Stones Pre-school can re-open
– Rebuild the Fellowship Hall, which burned to the ground
– Rebuild the Food Bank and Kitchen, both completely lost in the fire
– Replace the destroyed Food Bank equipment, such as refrigeration units, and Food Bank inventory
-Make extensive repairs needed to the Foyer and Sanctuary
– Replace destroyed religious and sentimental items, including: the large redwood Sanctuary Cross, Redwood Communion platters, stained glass windows, etc.

About the Church:
Tucked away in the heart of Garberville, this little gem of a Church has quietly served the community for generations.  The Community Presbyterian Church has meant many things to many people: it runs the Community Food Bank, houses Stepping Stones Pre-school, provides space for school recitals and Dragon Heart Tang Soo Do, hosts the community flea market, and functions as an emergency homeless shelter in inclement weather.  First and foremost, for the members of the congregation, it is a spiritual home full of love, acceptance, and friendship.

Please give if you are able, and share this campaign.  The small congregation is still in shock, and are grappling with the immense task of rebuilding.  They are used to being the helpers, but now they are the ones who need help.  Show Garberville Presbyterian some love!  If you cannot give financially, consider stopping by to say hello and let them know their contributions to our community have been appreciated.  I promise you won’t find a kinder, more open-hearted group of people.

Like Mueller-Anderson said, the members “are used to being the helpers, but now they are the ones who need help.” Be an angel and pitch in, please. We did.

Supervisor Estelle Fennell will also be donating. She wrote, “I know how much this lovely and cherished place of worship and solace means to the community and I, for one, will be happy to donate to efforts to rebuild. I encourage everyone who cares to give what they can.”

Here’s a place you can donate.

Mueller-Anderson has one more thought she’d like to share with our readers:

I really think that rebuilding the destroyed portions of the Church is one of the best ways we can honor the firefighters who worked so incredibly hard to save our beloved Sanctuary. We do love our volunteer firefighters and we owe them our eternal gratitude for what they did on June 16.

Earlier Chapter:  




  • Will there be an account at the credit union as a way to donate?
    If you bank there you can easily transfer a donation from your account with a phone call.

  • They must have had some fire insurance, you would think.

    • I was thinking the same thing. It would be good to know. Nevertheless, I will be donating to the cause because even if the church had insurance, it will not cover all of the loss.

    • Insurance helps the recovery but rarely covers more than the physical building.

  • Believer or not that’s a powerful photo.

  • This is a reminder that property owners should carry adequate fire insurance. My donation is to advise Garberville to stop or at least take steps to marginally disrupt public camping in vehicles.

    To persons living in cars and motor homes permanently: Go park at a campground. It is not legal to just stop and live anywhere at all. The roads around Redway are not KOA parks! There are some people around here who burn randomly parked motorhomes! Be aware, some folks may be on drugs or just generally crazy. Random and ugly crime occurs here! Garberville/Redway may look like Disneyland for druggies, but it’s actually a rather conservative, insular, paranoid and provincial place. Those people may look like hippies but they are really Republicans! They mean business and they can be evil, and attack at random. Bum-bashing is an annually applied sport here. Don’t leave your house-vehicle unattended, as it could well be robbed or destroyed. If you need medical care, the hospital has a 24hr emergency room. Be aware and be wary! You can’t just do whatever you want here!

    Please do not burn down our homes, businesses, forests or wildlife. Getting too crazy in public is not advisable in SoHum.

    SoHum is a wild place, but don’t come here to act crazy or do drugs in public. Camp where permitted only. The KOA is in Benbow. Try it.

    Oh, and leave a donation to help rebuild the church. Thanks for visiting!

  • RV fires that just happened. They burn all the time and it’s bad to park one
    near a building. Bad news, but to be aware of this could save you.

  • Stop the vigilante violence in so hum

    This is one of many many RVs that have burned in so hum. If you stop for a minute the vigilantes come after you. They are very lucky someone wasn’t in these RVs that get burned consistently to the ground in so hum. You mean to tell me the church didn’t have insurance? Ask the rich dope growers/ vigilantes that live on this same block to pay up!
    What they don’t tell ya is that there has been so many confirmed beatings on that block you can’t keep count. The Friday before a man was almost beat to death laying in front of that very church. The Friday before that the last person convicted of beating a man almost to death was seen back out with his bats and brothers. He also lives 2 blocks from this RV fire.
    Three people had been flown out they were beat so bad by the locals that live inside. One person has been murdered by beating him to death with a 2×4 as another held him down.
    Now Estelle Fennel is going after an ordinance for her grower friends that says “go away” to the tourists that come to their community in RVs. Remember TOURIST? Not everything is about marijuana…..I know the genterfication business laundering group forgets that thousands of people that come threw there in RVs. Who else is going to buy potatoes from Chatuqua store for 10.00 a lb.? They bring money, remember? You have redwood trees people come all over the world to see, remember?
    Too bad their supervisor wouldn’t work on the violence in that area instead of trying to criminalize the tourist! If this was an accident it’s the first one. That community has so much to work on, I could see why you just want to pass up that hole. The “locals suck.” I have never read about so much violence in such a little town.
    You folks have really BIG problems that you ignore everyday until the locals slip and burn down their own church! Opps! No biggy though because their cops will cover it up for them as officers has historically done in that dirty little town.Your secret is out! You are only sick as your secrets SO HUM! Just google southern humboldt, arson, vigilante, murder, marijuana, homeless beatings, it’s a pretty awful community. Their leaders are dripping in a marijuana $tupor, dazed and confused as they stand at the back door allowing every drug addict in to buy into their “marijuana economy” as they shut the front door to tourists! Go fiqure?

    • Are you saying the RV fire was set by a resident intent on burning out the people living in the RV?

      I’m not always up on every detail but I have to say this contradicts the word on the streets.

  • There are no accessible (affordable w/ public transportation access) campgrounds in Redway/Garberville, that is the only reason this happened. This has been a debate for decades and our government officials are well aware of this fact, and while they are happy to donate money towards another bandaid, they refuse lasting solutions. There is no housing literally and loads of work here in So Hum. People keep begging to be left alone in their camps/parked outside of town, often on state lands, I talk with them all the time and they explain “the vigilantes go after them, steal their survival gear and harass them constantly” (including pregnant, elderly and families- some such stories here- Folks park and sleep outside the church because it is literally the only option sometimes. This is the consequence of a town in total denial and these horrible events will keep happening until people wake up to humane solutions instead of bandaids, criminalization, negligence and abuse. Im sure they have insurance and they will get loads of donations, while those who need help most still have no viable alternative options for their basic survival. It would behoove people who want to donate towards lasting change, to set up a campground with their donations- but that is not profitable, or seemingly appeasing to business interests, so it never happens (think again). I know tons of activists and non-profits who have been demanding to organize around a solution to this exact matter with Estelle for her entire term as supervisor. Im glad to see some sign of action on her part finally, but it would be nice if she cared equally about all of the Southern Humboldt residents instead of just these ones as this clearly demonstrates. This is a slap in the face to everyone she has ignored whom was working so tirelessly to resolve these very issues, while she helps to usher in big Cannabiz, making the problems here so much worse for everyone. Maybe we should gain perspective and take a drive to Mendocino where you will experience another world. There is virtually no crime, loads of free camping, no cops, no hate, peace on the streets, tons of tourism, happy small business’, all economic status welcome, anywhere you set up a tent is fine basically, so people pick logical places to camp that don’t threaten entire communities. It could be so simple, or we can fuel the fire some more.

  • Pingback: Gofundme for Presbyterian Church | Sohum Parlance II

  • Kym – We are replacing a large refrigeration unit next week and could donate the old one. Who do I contact to make arrangements for this? The old one still functions.

  • Thanks Kym!

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