By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
The congregation at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church focused Sunday on the future and not the devastating past.
"We're going to get through this," the Rev. Brad Zerkel said.
Thursday morning was the low point as Zerkel stood in the cold and watched "the only sanctuary I've ever known as a pastor burn down."
Gut-wrenching, chaotic, hectic times have churned since the flames were first spotted. But the members and their supporters have also come together.
But he and the church have spent the ensuing hours regrouping and preparing for Sunday's worship service. Zerkel said the focus is the grace of the Lord taking away their pain and filling their hearts with the hope for the future.
"From that point on, it's been uplifting, through the Lord saying, 'It's OK.' The people saying, 'It's going to be OK,'" he recalled.
Because of the fire, the service was moved to the educational building's basement.
"We are meeting. We don't have heat. The fire marshal wouldn't even let us have space heaters, but we have our coats, our prayers and the Lord's word - that that'll be enough," the pastor said.
Roger Fangmann, president of the congregation, said members are plotting their next steps including whether to completely tear down the burned structure and start over or rehabilitate the existing property.
"Once we get some answers, we'll start meeting and come up with a plan from that," he said.
But the church will definitely stay in the old Northeast area near Eighth Street and Benton Boulevard.
""We've been here 90-plus years. We don't want to abandon this area," he said. "We're concentrated in this area. We feel the need to be in this area. There's not really any other Lutheran church's real close here that can meet that need."
Church officials are waiting to hear the final report from investigators, but believe the fire started near the organ in the sanctuary.
Both the pastor and Fangmann said the support the church has received has been incredible during a difficult time.
"It's important. We're a family," Fangmann said. "We draw on each other's comfort ... I don't think our future changes that much. There may be some changes to the facility and things like that. I think our future is pretty well determined."
You can track the church's rebuilding process at their website. Click here.
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