No easy path back: Christ Lutheran Church continues long road to recovery

The flood of 2011 affected several Minot church buildings, some of which have not been restored. In some cases, damage caused by the flood exceeded resources necessary to rebuild.

Restoration of a church can be a lengthy and costly process, but it is one that remains under way at Christ Lutheran Church. Christ Lutheran is located near Longfellow Elementary, between 16th Street and 17th Street Northwest.

Christ Lutheran recently held Christmas Eve services despite having a long way to go in its recovery effort. Parishoners filled the church, sitting on metal folding chairs. The wooden pews fell victim to the flood and had to be removed. Heat was recently restored to the church, along with some electric lighting. The basement, which housed a kitchen and classrooms, has been gutted and remains closed.

“The basement is basically a storage area right now,” said Allen Pearson, chairman of the Christ Lutheran property board. “It has been cleaned, sanitized, dried. No lights, heat only.”

Recovery efforts on the main floor of the church have been ongoing, but painfully slow. The last of dangerous asbestos was not removed until mid-December. Where there once was beautiful carpet in the church area, bare concrete exists today. Studs are visible in places where soggy sheetrock had to be removed.

Restoration is an immense project, especially when considering that nearly half of the members of the church also suffered from residential flooding. Fortunately for Christ Lutheran, said Pearson, is that membership hasn’t changed a lot.

“We hoping to start building in the spring. We have a lot of great support,” said Pearson.

“We are in kind of a waiting pattern right now, waiting for architects to get some drawings to us and that kind of thing,” said Carol Moen, education director. “A decision has been made to pursue remodeling, not to move. No plan has been decided on yet.”

The church board of directors hopes a consensus on renovation plans will be reached during an annual meeting of the church scheduled for Jan. 27. Funding will be an issue. So too will be a number of other factors, such as a city alleyway between 16th Street and 17th Street Northwest that crosses through the Christ Lutheran Church parking lot. The west edge of the plotted alley is situated immediately against the east side of the church. If the church wishes to expand to the east during the current rebuilding process it will have to receive a clearance from the city, including the moving of utility services that lie beneath the alley.

“You step off our curb at the east entrance and you are on the alley,” said Pearson. “We’re asking the city if we can abandon the alley. A big thing is the safety issue and the handicap accessibility. We’ve received input from the congregation on how to improve or change our church. It comes down to what the city will allow us to do.”

Since the flood Christ Lutheran has maintained offices and educational classes at Bethany Lutheran Church. It is an arrangement much appreciated by the members of Christ Lutheran while they continue to determine the future of their damaged building. Some normalcy has returned. Church services are being held each Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday a 9:30 a.m. at Christ Lutheran during the slow process of recovery.

“It always takes longer than you think in something like this,” said Pearson. “We don’t want to rush into a plan and find out it is something we don’t want.”