KLONDIKE - Church services brought new meaning this Sunday for parishioners at a small Oconto County church. A Tuesday night fire ravaged their place of worship.
The fire happened at the Klondike Community Church. That's near the town of Coleman in Oconto County.
Parishioners at the Klondike Community Church joined hands in prayer in a tent on the church property, grateful the shell of their nearly 100 year old structure is still standing.
"I think first of all, it was shock, thinking our church? It couldn't be our church," said Theresa Schoud, whose family bought the vacant church building in 2010.
Local fire crews say flames broke out in the south east corner of the small country church Tuesday night.
"Within seconds it went across the whole attic and it came out of the bell tower," said Brazeau Volunteer Fire Chief John Fetterly.
Yet, pews inside the church remain nearly untouched. The wood altar still stands. And this cross, the very symbol of their faith, has come to stand for even more.
"Underneath the tarnish of that cross and the smoke and what had occurred outside, that cross, it's still strong and it still stands," said Pastor Mark Kostreva.
With all the damage the fire has left behind, the owners of the church say they can't even put a monetary value on how much the renovations could cost. However, they say the true value of this church doesn't lie in the building. It lies in the people.
"Everybody was so saddened. And then, it turned around that everybody is ready to move on," said Schout.
The pastor says contractors, even people who don't attend the church, have offered construction services and supplies free of charge.
"This community is about community and serving one another. So taking that from the past week and moving forward, it's a wonderful feeling and I am happy to be part of this community," said Kostreva.
Bound together by faith, and brought tighter in that bond by this unexpected tragedy, the faithful say their little church will rise above the ashes.
The fire chief says the investigation into the cause of the fire continues. Church officials have set up a donation fund for the Klondike Community Church at the Peshtigo State Bank branch in Coleman.
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