Church rebuilds from faulty fire system

By Blaze Fugina Community Editor

A Mound church is now working on the reconstruction of their building’s interior after a malfunctioned fire sprinkler sprayed water inside the complex for up to 14 hours in early July.

Mound Evangelical Free Church Pastor David Abernethy said a malfunctioned fire suppression sprinkler, located above a stage inside the sanctuary, sprayed water inside the building during the night of Friday, July 6. The water then seeped into the basement located directly below the sanctuary.

"A shopper from Jubilee Foods noticed water coming out of the back door Saturday morning," said Abernethy. "The fire security system didn’t trip."

The malfunctioned sprinkler head did not sound an emergency alert system designed to bring the Mound Fire Department to the scene. Nobody knows what caused the sprinkler to malfunction, but no sign of a fire was found. Abernethy said some contractors suspected the heat of an unusually warm summer night may have caused the problem.

"All of it was soaked through," he said. "Most of the building was compromised."

After the damage was sorted out, the church began working on reconstruction efforts. Abernethy said Lindstrom Insurance has been working with the church on preparing for construction inside the building

"The insurance, by gods grace, is footing the bill," he said. "We didn’t anticipate a building project this summer."

The church hopes construction will be done by the end of fall. While the construction is taking place, the Mound Evangelical Free Church has had to find other facilities for activities and functions. Abernethy said the church is grateful for the support they have been receiving from members of the community, including area schools and churches.

"Twenty-four hours from worship, we received a call immediately from Pastor Mike Michalk at Mount Olive Lutheran Church," he said.

Mount Olive allowed the Mound Evangelical Free Church to use their facility for worship on Sunday, July 8. After that, the church has been holding their regular Sunday worships at the Hilltop Primary School in Minnetrista.

"They have opened their doors for as long as we need," he said. "People’s spirits have been great. We’re grateful for the response of the community."

Other area churches are helping with the burden a faulty sprinkler left behind as well. Abernethy said that a wedding that was scheduled to be held at the Mound Evangelical Free Church on Friday, July 27 was instead held at the Bethel United Methodist Church in Mound.

When asked if it is difficult for the church to move and worship in other locations during the reconstruction, Abernethy said they have had no problem hosting the services they had before the damage.

"One thing I have been grateful for our worship on Sunday is that it is pretty simple," he said. "It is really built around the bible."

Even after their building was damaged, Abernethy said the spirit of the church and its members has not been affected.

"The building has been damaged, but not the church," he said. "It is alive and well."

One positive the Mound Evangelical Free Church can look forward to in reconstruction is an upgrade to parts of the church, including a basement that was constructed in 1939. The update will help the church gain a baptistery, something it never had before.

"We want to do the best we can to have a grand opening," said Abernethy

The reconstruction effort is estimated to be finished in three months.