Congregation gathers in shadow of church destroyed by fire

Church members gather for Sunday service outside St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pomaria (Source: Taylor Fulmer)
Church members gather for Sunday service outside St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pomaria (Source: Taylor Fulmer)

POMARIA, SC (WIS) - Perhaps there was a divine reason the weather was unseasonably warm on first Sunday a Pomaria church congregation had services outside their historic sanctuary. 

Four days after the historic St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pomaria was destroyed by fire, the congregation gathered on the front lawn Sunday morning for prayer service.

"I've been here a long time and this is one of the holiest moments of my life, very important to me and meaningful to me," said Pastor Brent Nichols, who has been with the church for more than 20 years.

Nichols said it was important to him and members to come back home and show that even though their physical church is gone, their spiritual church is still present.

"We are the body of Christ," he said. "When we go through the doors we are the church going out into the community."

People from throughout the community and various faiths attended the service.

As they prayed outside the burned-out shell of their historic church, the morning temperature was unseasonably warm.  There was no need for the wool coats, hats and mittens usually required for a Sunday morning in January.

The historic church on SC Route 773 caught fire early Thursday morning, and by the time the church council decided that evening to hold Sunday services on the front lawn, all that was left were the standing stone walls.

"It kind of puts an end to this part of our history," said church member Jerry Richardson. "Now we have to move into another phase of our history."

An old school will be the church sanctuary for now.

"where ever we gather, it will be the church," said Chris Caston.

"Christ is our hope."

According to its web site, the church celebrated its 250-year anniversary in 2011. The land on which the church stands was an original land grant of 68 acres from King George III of England.

Fire officials are not sure what caused the fire but they say it began in the church's educational building and spread to the sanctuary.

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