First Lutheran Church in Minot was mostly saved by the dike built this past summer when the disastrous flood waters came roaring through. However, the basement of the church and the parish education building took on water and were heavily damaged, while the upper levels of the church and parish building remained unharmed.
Pastor Ken Nelson, senior pastor of First Lutheran Church, estimated the monetary figure is at $630,000 worth of flood-related costs. He added that complete restoration of the church basement would be $50,000 to $60,000 if they wanted to do everything they wanted or needed to be done.
The water was all sewage backup, Nelson said, which damaged all of the classrooms in the parish building basement and the rooms in the basement of the church. He said things like carpeting, walls, the phone and electrical systems were all damaged.
The Forum Room in the basement of First Lutheran Church has been cleaned and is currently in use for adult education and confirmation classes. During this past summer’s flood, the church basement was full of sewage backup and complete restoration of the basement would cost $50,000 to $60,000 if they wanted to do everything they wanted or needed to be done.
Hit the hardest by the flood was the parish education building since it took on more water, but there was more damage to the church basement, Nelson said. He said the elevator, elevator controls and boiler system in the church basement were mostly damaged and were some of the biggest expenses. They have spent more money on restoring the main church building, he said.
There was nothing in the church or the parish education building basements that couldn't be saved. Nelson said they did a pretty good job of cleaning out the basement. "In terms of personal furnishings, most of that was moved to the main level. The damage was all done to the structure itself," he said.
First Lutheran Church members were out of their building for about three months, Nelson said, and worshipped at Zion Lutheran Church during that time. Nelson added that the flood affected Wednesday and Sunday school programs by having to start a month later. He said the adult education classes have been slow to start again since it took time to get the basement clean.
In the evacuation effort, Nelson said First Lutheran Church had at least two dozen people who helped, including several volunteers from Minot Air Force Base.
First Lutheran Church is moving forward and fixing everything, according to Nelson. He said the church had no heat in August and knew they had a very short time to get that fixed.
One issue First Lutheran has had since the flood has been a decrease in people coming to church and attending Wednesday activities, Nelson said. He thought that could also be due to a loss of church membership.
Nelson noted there has been a decrease in worship attendance by close to 25 percent, which is a significant amount. However, he said the loss of membership has been offset by new members.
In the flood recovery stage, First Lutheran has had to make some adjustments. Nelson said they've had to relocate some of the classrooms because they've given two rooms to Lutheran Disaster Response volunteers.They've also had to adjust some of the classroom activities because they don't have the same space in the parish education building basement as they did before, Nelson said. He also said the main change has been in the amount of time the leadership staff has had to spend on flood restoration costs and decisions. "That's taken a lot of their time," he said.
Before this past summer's flood, the Friendship Room, the Bride's Room, the nursery, the Adult Forum Room and the Quilter's Room were housed in the church basement. It has been considered to restore the church basement back to its original condition, Nelson said. However, he said, they may not restore it exactly because of the current building project and that may take some of the old space away. He said they are proceeding slowly because of their ongoing capital campaign fund to connect the church to the parish education building, which would eliminate the courtyard separating the two structures.
The most trying aspect in recovering from the flood, Nelson said, has been the emotional, physical and mental fatigue of never having any time to rest. "Churches are normally pretty active and since the flood, so many more decisions have had to be made and that's been pretty trying," he said.
He thought the most surprising aspect to arise from the flood was the generosity of people. "And I say that in the fact that people continued to give generously to the people here and to the Lutheran Disaster Response volunteers and to make the Tree of Hope campaign so successful."
Nelson found another surprising aspect to arise from the flood was with the ability of people to keep their cool. It would have been easy for people to have been irritable, he said.
The greatest need for First Lutheran Church at this time is for its membership to recover, to feel less busy than they are and for people to get back into their homes, Nelson said. He said there is still work to be done. He added there's a willingness to come together and make some space utilization decisions wisely.
Currently, the plan for First Lutheran Church, according to Nelson, is to complete the capital fund campaign with a goal of reaching $5 million. He said the next goal would be to design an expansion of their facilities and see how they can serve their members and non-members with the added space.
Nelson said the capital fund campaign will be completed by the end of April and then they'll work on the design of the expanded facility over the summer.
Also in the church's plan is to appropriately mark the one-year anniversary of the flood, Nelson said. He said this event will either be with just the congregation of First Lutheran Church or together with other churches.
The most recent plan for the people of First Lutheran Church, though, is to celebrate Easter, Nelson said. "There is resurrection even in this life. You can live again in houses that looked like tombs last July. Some of the grief is starting to subside," he said.