Members of Norwood Young America church look to future after fire destroys building

December 12, 2018 10:48 AM

Flames tore through the church of a 160-year-old congregation in Norwood Young America Sunday night, leaving members of Church in the Maples United Methodist Church to search for a new place to worship.

"All of our history, our paperwork, it's all gone," said church member Genie Young.

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"It's shocking. It's very shocking to see," said Pastor Eli Somers.

RELATED: Cause of Norwood Young America church fire under investigation 

Just like the trees that are its namesake, Church in the Maples has deep roots in Norwood Young America. But it only took a few hours to destroy the building with such rich history.

"I think the town members whether they go to this church or not know this church," Somers said.

Somers took over leading the congregation about five months ago. As a pastor, he's usually the one offering spiritual guidance. But Sunday night, he found himself being consoled.

"Brokenhearted and yeah, really sad," Young said. "I was just sitting at home and said I just have to go see I have to see if there's anything left." 

Many people stopped by the charred church Monday to survey the damage and take photos. Out of the ashes, workers salvaged the original bell from the steeple. 

"The Lord makes good out of everything that happens in our lives and I'm looking forward to what's next what he is going to do," Young said.

RELATED: Crews fight fire at church in Norwood Young America 

"We are very happy it's just the building if that's the only loss here it's a miracle," Somers said.

Across town at All Saints Lutheran Church, the sanctuary opened its doors for a prayer service to burned out parishioners and anyone else who needed support.

Bill Grundahl shared memories of being baptized, confirmed and married at Church in the Maples.

"It's the only church I've ever known in my life, some 60 years," he said. 

His wife listened from a pew and wiped away tears.

Others expressed sadness that rummage and plant sales won't be held for the foreseeable future while United Methodist Church leaders determine what happens next to the town's oldest house of worship. 

Pastor Somers said church members will attend services at Arlington United Methodist Church nearby until a more permanent solution is arraigned. It will be up to Methodist church leaders to decide whether to rebuild.

Investigators are still working to determine a cause of the fire. Because it's a house of worship, an investigator from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting in the investigation. 

The State Fire Marshal Division is also assisting local authorities and the ATF at the scene of the fire.

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Matt Belanger & Beth McDonough

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