Bible Fellowship Church is being resurrected in time for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and church members will be celebrating the resurrection in their own church after nearly a year of worshipping in an alternative location.
The Rev. Duane Deckert, pastor of Bible Fellowship Church, 1720-4th Ave. NW, didn't have an exact figure for total damages sustained from this past summer's notorious flood, but he thought it was more than $150,000 just in materials alone, not including labor.
He said the Mennonite Disaster Service agreed to help them rebuild their church and volunteers have been staying to help on a weekly basis since last August. Deckert said the Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers have been staying at Congregational United Church of Christ, but they will soon be staying at Bible Fellowship Church. Volunteers will be helping for the next year to year and a half to help finish the rebuilding effort.
The sanctuary of Bible Fellowship Church in Minot looks like a construction zone, but the plan is to hold the Easter Sunday service at 10:45 a.m. in their church and on the Sundays thereafter. Volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Service will also be coming in on a weekly basis to help rebuild the church and will be staying there for the next year to year and a half.
Plenty of work
Mennonite Disaster Service has five projects they plan to finish in a month, Deckert said, and right now they are working on area homes. After that, they will work on the restoration of Bible Fellowship Church.
The inside of Bible Fellowship Church had nearly 3 feet of water, Deckert said. Everything was lost, he said, except for a copy machine, two pianos and a drum set which had been put on the stage in the sanctuary. Deckert said the basement was basically empty, but everything else was damaged.
Church members didn't do any sandbagging, said Deckert, but he estimated about 20 people helped with the evacuation. "We didn't take much out because we didn't think the water would get that high."
Deckert said he felt they've been blessed, particularly with having the right people there and ready to help at the right time. But he said two minor issues they've had post-flood have been with waiting for volunteers and that people are anxious to get back in their own church building.
Deckert also said he and the congregation are very grateful to Immanuel Baptist Church since that's where Bible Fellowship members have been worshipping. "The neat part of the aftermath of the flood is that it's been bringing everyone together," he said.
The most trying aspect in recovering from the flood has been with Deckert having to be portable since his office is at his house instead of at his own church. Another trying aspect has had to do with all of the decisions that have to be made.
"We've had a lot of meetings over the past few months," he noted. Also, added Deckert, the deconstruction, the mucking out and the hot days of cleaning out the church have been trying aspects of flood recovery.
The support from other Mennonite churches, along with other members from far away who have made donations to Bible Fellowship Church, have been surprising parts in the aftermath of the flood, Deckert said. Mennonite Disaster Service has played a huge role in rebuilding the church and homes in its surrounding area, he said.
Deckert wanted to note the importance of their volunteers coming in, too. He said Mennonite Disaster Service has had 20 to 25 volunteers in a wide range of ages coming in to help from various places. He said this past week the volunteers came from Nebraska and Iowa, but volunteers have also come from as far away as Pennsylvania and Ohio. "We've been touched by being a part of this group," Deckert said.
Volunteers have been coming in to help on a weekly basis and soon they will be staying at Bible Fellowship Church, Deckert said. There are about 24 bunk beds upstairs in the former Sunday school rooms, and shower facilities and a kitchen in the basement for the volunteers, he said. "The focus is being here to help people physically and spiritually. That's our mission right now."
The interior of the church is coming together, but now they need to get the exterior of the building back in order, Deckert said.
Deckert said there hasn't been much of a decrease in membership since the flood and they've only had two families move out of town. He said the attendance at the church runs about 40 to 50 people on a weekly basis.
The big plan for members of the church is to be back in their place of worship on Easter Sunday. Services will continue in their church from then on, Deckert said.
Bible Fellowship Church's service on Easter Sunday will be at 10:45 a.m. Deckert said they're working on some events to take place after the Easter holiday, but nothing is concrete yet. He said the events would help the community in the recovery process.