HERMISTON — Gutted by fire a year and a half ago, a church here has begun to rebuild.
As reported on GleanerNow.com, a news website for the Ridgefield, Wash.- based North Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, construction of the new Hermiston Adventist Church is under way. In the meantime, about 100 church members are worshipping in the nearby Hermiston Junior Academy.
Although the exterior of the burned church looked mostly whole following the 2018 blaze, the interior was a mass of charred wood, broken glass and melted plastic. It was declared unsafe and unsalvageable and was eventually demolished.
The congregation voted to accept plans for a somewhat larger, more modern-looking structure to be built on the original property. Included are a fellowship hall and kitchen for cooking classes, health-focused events and “open table” community meals, along with a chapel for Spanish-speaking members.
The church also hopes on the property to resume Journey to Bethlehem, a Christmas program that thousands have attended during the past decade.
But funding the new building has been challenging. Negotiations between insurance adjusters resulted in a settlement that fell far short of the amount originally anticipated
To date, the congregation has raised $105,000 — largely from their own donations — towards the significant deficit they face building the new church. Assumption of a $250,000 loan is planned. Letters have been written to sister churches, community contacts, family and friends. Children have brought coins to church each week to contribute. Dinners and online or garage sales are scheduled.
According to GleanerNow.com, contractor Mark Black of Advantage Construction Management in Walla Walla, Wash., is studying ways to make substantial cost cuts, including a generous reduction of his usual fees. GoFundMe page, listed under “Rebuilding after the Church Fire,” was initiated last fall, with hopes of filling the $600,000 gap in needed funding.
The website notes that the task facing the Hermiston Church may appear daunting, but the congregation’s faith is strong. A number of current members were young participants in the original church building project of the 1960s and remember the commitment of earlier generations. Members firmly believe God will continue to impress many to give sacrificially as the church attempts to recover from a devastating loss.