Congregation Takes Next Steps After Fire
Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) It’s a new era for the 138 year-old Marshfield congregation at Wesley United Methodist Church, which broke ground on Sunday for a new church building after losing its home to a devastating fire on September 2 last year.
The congregation held a remembrance service on the site of of E. 3rd Street and S. Maple Avenue where its church has gathered since 1886, and thanks to dedicated members, will do so once again.
The day after the fire, a meeting was held by Pastor Lourdes Magalhães where there was a consensus among the members that the church would move forward. On Sept. 9, just days after the blaze, the Rebuilding Committee held its first meeting.
“There was never a question we weren’t going to rebuild,” said Terry Frankland, committee chair.
The committee considered alternate sites for rebuilding but it was ultimately decided that the church would stay close to its history. Though told the process could take 2-3 years, the team pushed ahead. If construction goes smoothly, the 13,378 square foot facility will be able to open its doors by Easter.
“We’re very fortunate,” said Frankland, who was baptized, confirmed, and married at Wesley UMC. “We’ve got great people in our congregation, very resilient people.”
“We support each other so much and that is really what we expected from the group,” said Pastor Lourdes.
The congregation’s long history can be traced back to 1881 when services were held in the public schoolhouse. A year later, that first congregation built its own church at S. Central Ave. and 6th Street on land donated by the Fox River Company.
In 1886, the current site was purchased and the church building was moved at a cost of just $150. After being spared in the Great Marshfield Fire of 1887 which destroyed the business district, the church experienced another brush with fire and was partially destroyed after renovations in 1901-02 were nearly complete. Thankfully, adequate insurance allowed the church to rebuild free of debt.
By 1919 the frame church was razed to make way for the red brick building destroyed last year. The new building was dedicated on June 11, 1922.
District Superintendent Rev. Tsuker Yang, District Superintendent Rev. Forrest Wells, United Methodist Church Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, and Mayor Bob McManus spoke during the service. Members of the Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department who responded that fateful day were also in attendance.
The Sweet Adelines, which had partnered with the church to hold its rehearsals, sang the praise song “Ain’t That Good News!” Two youth members released a monarch butterfly as a symbol of rebirth.
The Rebuilding Committee, church members, and Wesley youth participated in the groundbreaking. Rebuilding Committee members are Terry Frankland, Joel Tomlinson, Penny Mahringer, Karalee Lamon, Doug Gray, Krista Donahue, and Larry Shortess.
The service concluded with a rendition of Amazing Grace and a final benediction.