Dunn County church moving on after fire building destroyed - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Dunn County church moving on after building destroyed by fire


Dunn County (WQOW) - Members of an area church that burned to the ground last month are coming together to rebuild. Back in January, a gas explosion destroyed a nearly century old church in Dunn County. No one was hurt, and now the congregation is moving forward.

"We were so surprised when we got the call that the church was on fire. We got there before it went down, it was in flames and it was really sad," said Brian Johnson, a member of the St. John's Lutheran Church Popple Creek congregation.

It's been less than a month since the St. John's Lutheran Church Popple Creek burned down north of Colfax.

"I was baptized there, confirmed there, and been going there all my life. I don't know if I slept all night really. Woke up the next morning wondering "What in the world are we going to do"? And we just pulled together, and we'll get through it," said Johnson.

In fact, since then, the church has continued to hold services. They started in Ridgeland, and now use the Holden Lutheran Church.

"We have ended up at a church that's about 5 miles from our church. It's more centrally located. We had offers from about four other churches which we really appreciate," said Bruce Winget, also a member of the church's congregation.

"That works out nice that they don't have to make a longer trek, but then you do have to worry, you know, bring in your own resources for some of the service materials, etcetera," said St. John's Lutheran Church Popple Creek Pastor John Toppe.

After discussing it with members of the congregation, the church decided last Sunday as a group to build a new place to worship.

"We do know that it would be on a different site, we aren't going to build right where the old one was located. Partially maybe to leave that as a memorial, partly perhaps its surrounded by cemetery," Toppe said.

Right now they're still waiting on insurance, but they're already looking ahead to the new building.

"We can be one level, handicap accessible, that's a plus. So if there's a silver lining, that's what it's going to be," said Winget.

"It's going to be just different for everyone when the new building is up, but yet we hopefully will have the same fellowship, and same congregation, and you never know, maybe grow a little bit more and make it look nice on top of the hill again," Johnson said.

Pastor Toppe says they hope to have a new church built by next fall. For the time being, church members will continue to hold services at the nearby Holden Lutheran Church. Meanwhile, the investigation into the explosion has been wrapped up. Nothing suspicious or criminal was found.

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