The undamaged altar and an oil painting of Christ in Gethsemane above it “stood out like a beacon” as a bulldozer tore down the charred walls of the 117-year-old sanctuary of Zion Lutheran Church in Wenona, Ill.
“It reminded us that God’s love for us was still there,” said Rev. Peter Glock, pastor of the 180-member congregation.
No one was hurt in the July 8 blaze that apparently started from faulty wiring in the frame church building’s attic. Firefighters from five towns assisted the Wenona Fire Department in battling the fire for almost five hours.
Though the church’s paraments, banners, communion ware, robes and other items were saved, the main part of the sanctuary was demolished by a bulldozer when it was feared the damaged walls would collapse.
Glock told Reporter that the congregation has insurance coverage, and that adjusters were still working to determine a dollar amount for the loss when this issue was being prepared.
“The congregation’s attitude is wonderful,” Glock said. “Through all this they have been supportive of each other. Their faith is strong.”
Glock said that although members had not met to discuss options, the “overwhelming sentiment” is to rebuild on the church’s one-acre site. He said they would “likely consider the option” of using the rescued altar and painting in a new facility.
“They’re looking forward to the future,” he said of Zion’s members.
For now, church services and meetings are held at the facilities of Bethany Lutheran Church, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation in Wenona.
Other area congregations, including those in the Synod’s Central Illinois District, offered support as well, Glock said.
Posted July 30, 2004