by Pastor Robert G. Snitzer
At 11:20 p.m. on July 3 a call came into the Forest City Fire Department that the Pilot Knob Lutheran Church was on fire. Upon arriving the smoke was so thick that the firemen could not see the entrance to the parking lot. The initial reaction to the blaze was that the church could not be saved. Three more fire departments arrived on the scene to help battle the blaze until about 3:30 a.m.
After the smoke had cleared it was apparent that the fire was contained in the entrance, basement, library, into the balcony and bell tower. The sanctuary, office, and kitchen were spared fire damage. However, smoke damage was severe.
The police department explained that there was another church fire that evening less than twenty miles away. The first thought was arson. How else can you explain two church fires in one night only hours apart? However, upon a thorough examination of the scene by the State Fire Marshall and an electrical engineer, the cause of the fire remains undetermined. Both remain under investigation, however, in light of yet another church fire and a shelter house in the state park on July 29 not far from Pilot Knob Lutheran.
At this time it appears that most of the contents are a loss due to fire and smoke damage, requiring extensive rebuilding.
Pilot Knob Lutheran was preparing to celebrate their quasiquicentennial celebration (125 years) September 10, 2000. The sanctuary and altar furniture were newly painted last Easter. As for the celebration, it has been postponed till the fall of 2001.
The community and surrounding churches have been very supportive and we have had many offers from congregations to use their facilities for worship. Currently we are holding services at the Crossroads Campus in Forest City, a building that is adjoining the Forest City Christian School.
Any time a tragedy takes place, a person wonders why. While we are asking the same question, we also are assured that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The Lord either plans or allows experiences in life to come our way. To those who love Him, who know Him as Savior and are striving to follow His will, all will be used to bring about good in their spiritual development and bring glory to God. The Lord has a purpose in allowing this to happen. We must now ask the Lord that this will be a growing experience, to discover the will of God for rebuilding and use this as a time to refocus on the meaning and purpose of worship and service.
We encourage every congregation to look over their insurance policy to ensure adequate structure and content coverage. It would also be very wise to keep off campus an updated inventory list along with pictures of the entire contents of the church building and the pastor’s office, if it is located in the church. This would also include photos of stained glass windows, etc.
We at Pilot Knob Lutheran ask for your continued prayers and support concerning rebuilding, unity of mind and spirit, and the spiritual development of God’s family. Please contact us at 636 North 4th Street, Forest City, Iowa 50436, to learn what our current needs are, such as pew Bibles (NIV), office equipment, etc. Thank you!