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EDGERTON, OH -
A Williams County church has another reason to celebrate this coming Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, March 24, the congregation will break ground on a new sanctuary.
What's left after the fire and what leaders hope the future holds for this beloved local church.
On July 17, 2012, lightning struck the bell tower of the Edgerton United Methodist Church. That caused an electrical short, which sparked a massive fire.
Pastor Rick Barnett was on vacation in Boston, Mass. when he got the call about the blaze. After a 19-hour drive home, he came upon the smoldering rubble and the bell tower.
Holding back tears, Barnett said, "It had to be torn down because of the safety factor, and it was down before I came. So it was…a little hard."
It is still very emotional for the pastor and church members and now, all that's left of the sanctuary is a huge hole in the ground. Since October, services have been held in the church's education wing, which was severely damaged by smoke and water, but went through extensive rehabilitation.
"There was some anger, initially," said Barnett. "And while it was not anger at God or anything, it was just anger because things happened."
The church filed the insurance claim and is ready for a new beginning. They'll break ground on this same land at N. Michigan and Hull for their new building.
Designs were recently revealed to church members. It will be 9,000 square feet and will have a lower top half with a cupola. The church will have to come up with no more than $500,000 of the $1.5 million dollar price tag.
Pastor Barnett said despite what they've been through, they're not worried about another act of God.
"You have to have faith," he said. "If you're going to be afraid of something, like a lightning strike, you're never going to do anything. We walk with God."
The different types and colors of bricks for the new church have been selected, and the pastor and church leaders will finalize the rest of the color schemes soon. They hope to dedicate the new church in June of 2014.