Carl Junction church destroyed by fire faces second rebuild after destruction in 2003 tornado

Carl Junction church destroyed by fire faces second rebuild after destruction in 2003 tornado

The United Methodist church in Carl Junction faces rebuilding again.

It’s been more than a decade since the same church was hit by a tornado.

Now it’s fire. A fire believed to be caused by lightning and the National Weather Service confirms five to six hundred lightning strikes between 3:00 am and 4:00 am this morning.

And that’s when crews got the fire call.

Church members are saddened because they say new things were happening here at the church that is now a total loss.

Denise Oplotnik says, “It’s heartbreaking. It’s, it’s unbelievable.”

Church members watched as fire crews soaked the burned skeleton that remains of the United Methodist church..

The fire chief believes a lightning strike hit first at the front, possibly the bell tower steeple and moved into upstairs rooms used as storage.

Ginger Sweet and Oplotnik discuss the losses. “My Sunday school classroom and the youth group room,” says Sweet.

Oplotnik says, “Our attic was full of twelve years of vacation bible school stuff and just to see all that, all that love and work just gone. And you won’t get it back. It won’t be the same.

Sweet says, “It’s not something we can, it was all custom made.”

A member of the church himself, Carl Junction Fire Chief Bill Dunn didn’t want to give up the fight.

Dunn says, “We saved some classrooms on the back side but they won’t be any good of course, between the heat and smoke. So I would say it’s totally destroyed.”

Dealing with disaster isn’t new to members of the United Methodist church. The church was destroyed by a tornado in 2003.

Church member Pat Wilson says, “You know it’s a building and the church is the people. And looking at it, knowing all the hard work that went into it, its heartbreaking to see it. And fire is so devastating, it just leaves just ash and there’s nothing to do with it .”

The fire brings back memories of the tornado for Pat, who was in the church when it hit. And unlike the twister the fire truly left nothing behind.

Pat says, “The historical bible which had been with the church from the very beginning was still turned to the same page that it had been before the tornado. It’s gone. It’s burned

Pastor Bill Kenagy says, “I hate to see for the folks who went through it in 2003, have to go through it again because I see that in their eyes and in their tears. But also, we’ll be able to draw upon their experience and we’ll be able to come back even stronger. ”

Pat adds, “And we got through that. We rebuilt the church and we were stronger when we got through. And that’s what I’m praying wilI happen now. We will get through this. We will rebuild and we’ll be stronger as a church.

The church was insured but members like Pat know how difficult the rebuilding process is.

Pastor Kenagy advises members to check the church facebook page for updates.

He says they will meet Sunday somewhere for service and to begin planning the rebuild.