BURLINGTON The Souris River flood of June 2011 took its toll on the structure of Peace Lutheran Church in Burlington but it was unable to destroy the determination of the church members.
The congregation and the entire community of Burlington have endured and will celebrate with a building dedication on May 5 during the 9 a.m. worship service. Dedication events will start on May 4 at 1 p.m. with a tour of some homes that were flooded and conclude with a potluck at 5:30 p.m. at the church. A list of homes on the tour will be available at the church that day.
The flood left the church building surrounded by water and the basement filled with water to the floor joists. Not only did the church sustain damage, but a large number of the congregation members' homes were also flooded.
Peace Lutheran Church, in Burlington, was surrounded by water during the Souris River flood in June 2011.
By the fall of 2011 the leaders of the congregation had to make a tough decision: Should they rebuild the basement or build above ground? After spending months of mucking out, cleaning out and hauling debris from the basement, plus many financial issues of re-developing the basement area, the ultimate decision was to build above ground. Plans then began for the more than 5,000-square-foot addition.
Realizing the amount of work that would be required, the congregation accepted an offer made by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Mission Builders would help to rebuild the church at a very reduced rate. In May 2012 six couples arrived in their RV homes. They came from states as far as Texas to the East Coast and lived in the church parking lot for up to six months.
Not only did the Mission Builders come, but people from everywhere came to help build the addition with labor and contributions. A group from New York, "Rising Above the Ashes," came to help and left "star" poles that are still standing around the community. Another group from Peace Lutheran's "sister" church in Wisconsin also came to help work and camped out at the church.
"All the hard work and monetary donations were truly appreciated," said Diane Moline, who was church council president at that time. "Above all, we are thankful. So thankful, for the many prayers."
During the building period meals were offered on Saturdays for the builders and the entire community. People looked forward to the meal and fellowship time.
"Serving the meals, and seeing the grateful faces was a blessing," Moline said. "It helped to reconnect us as a community."
Moline added that the church family has grown in faith as well as in numbers. She said the new addition houses additional space for the kitchen and fellowship hall, Sunday school rooms, a family room, the Good Shepherd Before and After School Care and the Burlington Food Pantry. The facility will also be available for community events.
"We really need to express our gratitude to all the church members and local people who volunteered so many hours to build the new addition," said Connie Haider, who is secretary at Peace Lutheran. "Without their help the addition would have been a much larger burden."