NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) – A historic church damaged in a fire Saturday night in Taftville has deep memories for the community.

“We can’t lose hope,” said Pastor Thomas Kalta, of the St. Mary and St. Moses Coptic Orthodox Church. “We can’t lose faith.”

An officer was walking their patrol around 10:05 p.m. Saturday when they saw a fire at the Taftville Congregational Church at 16 North B St. 

When fire crews arrived, they reported that the church, established in 1904, was fully engulfed in flames.

Kalta showed News 8 around the church on Monday. The altar cover was completely burned, along with an office and the seating area.

“To be honest with you, I’m still in shock,” Kalta said.

Firefighters were able to retrieve some icons from the sanctuary, which is no longer safe to enter.

The building, also known as the “green church,” has deep ties to the community.

“It’s a Taftville a gem, it really is,” said Carol Glaude who grew up in Taftville.

She has many memories of sledding down the hill behind the church with all her friends.

“We would all just get together and let’s meet at the green church,” Glaude said.

The fire chief, a self-proclaimed history buff, shared why it is considered the “green church.”

“The mill donated the land for the construction of it, they also donated the paint as they had an overabundance of green paint,” Chief Timothy Jencks said.

He had a personal connection to the call.

“There were many weddings there,” Jencks said. “There were funerals there. It’s… again it’s a focal point for people and you don’t ever want to see that stuff go away.”

The pastor was told it will take more than a year to repair this damage, and it could be expensive because of the historical detail.

He plans to hold an evening prayer service later this week. The day depends on the weather.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.