Historic Church Destroyed By Fire

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Fire destroyed a 125-year-old church early Friday morning, but its congregation isn't letting that slow its members down.

The Moline Christian Church, which had stood since 1886, burned to the ground. Though the official cause has not yet been determined, officials suspect a lightning strike.

While more than a century's worth of memories and history were lost in the fire, members of the Elk County congregation say they will not allow the fire to destroy their faith.

"It's kind of rough right now, but we're going to get through this," says church member Elmer Wolf. "We're going to take care of this and we'll come out on the other side, I think, in better shape for it."

Wolf is also a captain of the Elk County Rural Fire Department and one of the many firefighters called to the church just after 3 a.m. Friday.

Pastor Stan Rumbough says by the time firefighters arrived, there wasn't anything they could do to save the historic church.

Members of his congregation are saddened by the loss of their church, but they're doing the best they can to look at the positives: The church was insured and Moline's other churches are reaching out to help.

"Churches all over have been calling us, talking to us, asking us what we need, what we need to set up, what we need to do," Rumbough says. "A family was in Wichita and they picked up communion bread and stuff for us and they got hold of Antioch Christian Church in Wichita. They've given us a communion set to use and some pew Bibles."

Those Bibles and communion supplies, along with a communion table and a piano donated to the church, will be put to use this Sunday. The local American Legion says the congregation can worship there as long as it needs.

Though the loss of the 1880s church saddens the community, everybody agrees the important thing is nobody was hurt.

"We can always build another building, but you can't rebuild a life," Wolfe says.

Members of the congregation say the only thing they can do is keep moving forward. Those first steps forward will be taken Sunday morning when the congregation gathers to worship at the American Legion.

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