Church being rebuilt after fire

Clarissa Kell | Daily Press The construction site of the new church building for the Wilson Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wilson is shown recently. The previous church building was burned after a lightning strike on July 25, 2017. Construction of a new church began at the end of April 2019. Plans are to complete the structure by Christmas.

WILSON — The Wilson Seventh-day Adventist Church, located on County Road 551 in Wilson, is finally being rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire after a lightning strike in 2017.

Charlotte Moon, a member of the church building committee, said the Wilson Seventh-day Adventist Church has been on the same land since 1908 and counting the fire in 2017, burned down twice.

Throughout the history of the church there has been a building committee, but at some point the formal building committee seemed to disappear.

“Nobody knows why it quit functioning. And the reason we have a building committee now is because I began to harangue at board meetings that we needed a building committee because there were repairs that needed to be done,” Moon said.

It wasn’t until early 2017 that the building committee was reconstituted to begin planning updates to the school building. However, those plans were delayed because on the night of July 25, 2017, the church was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire.

“Lightning hit the top of the church,” said Steve Wery, a member of the building committee.

He explained the roof was engulfed in flames and it took several hours and five township fire departments to contain the fire. Township fire departments from Harris, Gourley, Spalding, Nadeau and Bark River fought the fire.

Wery said the building itself remained standing, but the damage was extensive.

The newly activated building committee, which was made up of eight members including the pastor, had a new project to attend to and that was rebuilding the church.

The recreation of the building committee isn’t the only part to the church’s story that had perfect timing.

Wery said he believes all things happen for a reason, and just like the building committee forming right before lightning struck and burned down the church, the church also got a new pastor.

He explained Pastor Tom Hubbard, who was new to the church right before the committee was created and the fire occurred, has a strong background in construction.

“I think that he was sent at a proper time to help us get through this, too,” Wery said.

The ground-breaking for the church did not occur until April of this year.

Wery said the church was able to allocated around $2.3 million from its insurance company for the new church building.

He added the two years of planning required many meetings, sorting out details, finding an architect, sending out bids, and finally awarding a contractor the project.

Blomquist Architects, PLLC, out of Iron Mountain, designed the new church that will be slightly bigger than the previous one.

Wery said the previous church was around 10,000 square feet, while the new church will be around 15,000 square feet.

Moon noted the new church will have the ability to seat around 275 people.

The new church will have a drive up canopy, a large lobby area, a main auditorium with its baptistry behind it, a mother’s room, pastor study, library, conference room, and six classrooms.

Wery said every aspect of the new church, from the concept design of the church itself to the type of wood flooring and colors, was voted on by the constituents.

“Everyone had a voice and majority ruled,” he said.

He said they always started with a prayer to let God lead in the decisions made and that by the end of the night everyone was in agreement.

The new church is being built by Moyle Construction of Houghton.

Wery said the hope is for the services to be moved back into the church by Christmas, but the contract with the construction company is until April 1, 2020.

Since the church burned down in 2017, the weekend worship services have been taking place in the gym at the school across the road.

Moon explained the setting up has been done by the students and has been taken down by everyone after Sabbath evening vespers.

Wery said no one involved with the church felt holding services at the school was a major setback.

“No matter where we meet we get a blessing,” he said.