January 8, 2009

01CN: Fire Damages Minneapolis Church

Fire Damages Minneapolis Church 
Insurance Helps Congregation to Move on

News Editor

capThe First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, counts itself fortunate: “The Minnesota Conference provides us with good insurance,” Pastor Maurice E. Battle, II, said recently.

That insurance came in handy as 2009 beckoned, thanks to a December 30, 2008 fire that damaged the basement, destroyed drum corps and Pathfinder gear, and caused smoke damage throughout the 100-year-old church building. The total damage was estimated at $50,000, but, Battle said, the insurance came through.

“On the morning of December 31, emergency cleanup began and we had Sabbath worship on January 3,” Battle told Adventist Review in a telephone interview. “We’re still continuing to clean,” he added, noting that demolition work on the basement, which suffered extensive smoke and water damage, was about to begin.

Media reports quote local fire officials saying the blaze had been caused by a heater used to keep water pipes in the basement from freezing. Minneapolis is known for its tough winters, and the building that First Church had occupied for the past 30 months had some unique details, Battle said. He said the structure, originally a Christian Science church and later an interdenominational Protestant congregation, was the “first poured concrete building” in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and had windows that extended from the basement to the top of the main floor. This posed potential problems to the water pipes, and thus resulted in the heater being mounted in the ceiling. It reportedly ignited a fire in insulation and window trim nearby.

Destroyed in the fire were drums, flags, uniforms, and camping equipment used by the church’s drum corps and drill team, which had been purchased in August 2008, reports indicated. Also lost were supplies for the church’s Pathfinders. Battle said he’d already received a check from the church’s insurer for the lost items.

He said the immediate goal would be to repair the 1,200-seat sanctuary so that now-suspended Sabbath School classes for children can be resumed. After demolition work in the basement is completed, reconstruction will commence.

Battle also praised neighboring non-Adventist churches whom, he said, were quick to offer worship and classroom space to the congregation.