MAYFIELD - Nearly two years ago, Mayfield Presbyterian Church was struck by lightning and burned down.
The congregation never gave up on its place of worship, however. And thanks to a groundswell of support, church members were able to rebuild their church.
On Easter, they worshiped inside their new church for the first time.
Nearly two years after a fire destroyed the Mayfield Presbyterian Church, members gather Sunday at the newly rebuilt church, which opened to worshipers on Easter. (The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland)
The Rev. Bonnie Orth leads the congregation in Sunday’s services at the new Mayfield Presbyterian Church. (The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland)
Nearly two years after a fire destroyed the Mayfield Presbyterian Church, the rebuilt church opened for services Sunday. (The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland)
"We've been thrilled; it is just such a blessing," said the Rev. Bonnie Orth, the church pastor. "So many people helped us get to this place that we couldn't possibly thank them all. Not only the people in our congregation, but in the community and around the country."
She led her congregation in services Sunday, the second Sunday service at the new church building, which is nearly finished.
Members say they're ecstatic about being in their new church on North Main Street.
"It's actually kind of overwhelming," said Jean Gifford, a 50-year member of the church. "It took about two years, and it's been a wonderful education. It's just overwhelming; the church is beautiful."
"It's great. I tell you it's really great," said church member Stan Kucel, who operates Kucel Contracting and is the project manager for the church reconstruction.
Kucel said a lot of emotions were left in the old church.
"We've gotten beyond that point, and everyone seems to be really excited about being in our new church," Kucel said.
"It's a real relief," church member Arthur Dahl said of the congregation's return to the church.
The church members had been worshiping at the Mayfield High School auditorium since the fire. The new church was built on the same site as the former building.
The church has been under construction for nine months. The building received its certificate of occupancy March 28, allowing members to worship there on Easter.
The old church caught fire April 28, 2011, after lightning struck the steeple. After the church sustained fire, water and smoke damage, only portions of the building were salvageable.
The church was demolished and construction later began on the new building.
Construction of the new church began in July. It can seat more than 200 people. The one-story church is 7,444 square feet and includes an attic, a sanctuary and space for a fellowship hall. The building includes a nursery, two classrooms, a choir room, a small conference room, several closet spaces, a food pantry, a kitchen and offices.
Dahl said the cost of rebuilding the church is around $1 million.
More work still needs to be done on the new church.
Kucel said the installation of stained-glass windows, air-conditioning work, outdoor landscaping and the construction of a door to separate the church and the dining area are among the projects that still need to be completed.
Some work, such as painting, had to wait until spring.
Orth said stained-glass windows will be installed Friday along with stoves for the kitchen.
Orth said the congregation received an outpouring of support from people and churches in the area, state and country.
Among the donations were those from a church in Queens and another in Otsego County.
"All those little gifts [add] up to allow us to have this beautiful sanctuary," Orth said.
In an effort to give back, Orth said the church is sending prayers and support to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., which was damaged after a tornado. Members wrote their blessings on rag paper and framed it. They also sent a booklet detailing Mayfield Presbyterian Church's history. They left space for Westminster to add its history and are asking the church to pass the booklet on to another church that needs help.
Arthur Cleveland can be reached at email@example.com.