January was a memorable month in the history of our congregation. Our church’s original building, which was constructed in 1863 during the Civil War and purchased in 1909 from a small denomination, caught fire around noon on January 1st, 1958. An over-heated coal furnace in the basement, below the pulpit, left the sanctuary significantly damaged. At the time, the church’s attendance had been slowly growing, and in 1955, before the fire, the Building and Planning Committee recommended that we should start to plan to build a new building, due to the age and condition of the building.
Two years later, in July 1957, that committee proposed that the building should soon be totally demolished and a completely new one be built on the existing land. At that time, there was only partial support for such a plan. The deciding vote was cast about six months later by “the Hand of God”, with a devastating fire. Then eight days later, 55 of the 97 church members attended a three-hour meeting to decide whether to repair the badly damaged building or replace it with a new structure. The vote this time was for a brand new building and it was unanimous! Palm Lutheran Church graciously offered their facilities at no charge, which we used for 18 months until our new building was completed. The groundbreaking ceremony occurred in June, 1958 and the first service in the new facilities was held on May 31, 1959. Dedication occurred on June 28, 1959 and the sanctuary was full. The new building and its furnishings cost about $139,000 and five years later, the debt was fully paid. Our church has continued to grow ever since. The Lord provides!