Sunday, August 26, 2007 started out as a hot sultry day that changed Northwood, when an F4 tornado tore through town in the evening. The tornado came from the southwest, and left northeast of town heavily damaging the Northwood School, Ebenezer, and Agvise lab, as well as many other businesses and homes.
One thing I remember hearing repeatedly was “Oh, I am so sorry to hear about the damage to your church.” It became an opening for a minor testimony to say, “you must have heard wrong.” “There was no damage to our church…Oh! you must have meant our church BUILDING!” “YES, extensive damage was done to our building, but our CHURCH is more alive than ever!” This was true the whole time we met at different locations; Swarstad Chapel, NDHC Dining room, and later at NELC Church until our new building was built. I feel we were never more focused on our mission.
Chad Peterson was our president at the time, in the National Guard, and he worked with the Guard to coordinate damage clean up. Many other organizations and individuals responded to help clean up as well. There was an estimated 60-62 million dollars in damage, and 2600 truckloads of debris were brought to the city dump, as well as other debris taken to other locations. It was estimated that Northwood lost about 1000 trees in the tornado.
A major goal was to get Northwood ‘buttoned up’ and ready for winter. We tarped what we could and moved contents out of harm’s way.
One of our first calls was to Curtis Construction Company of Fargo, most likely because they were the builder we chose for our 1971 addition on the old church. They came out with a structural engineer and his opinion was that the structure of the bell tower/steeple was compromised severely, in that it had been lifted and rotated all the way to the basement.
This led to the first of many congregational meetings. On September 19, 2007, at a congregational meeting in Swarstad Chapel, we opted to form a building committee. Elected were Mark Korsmo, Chm. , Gary Bilden, Chris Howson, Ben Larson, Ed Lloyd, Erik Thorsgard, Jerry Thingelstad, Ted Lloyd, Wes Kunz, and Grady Thorsgard
Several churches were toured to come up with ideas for the new church. Calvary Baptist Church (presently Calvary Church at Village Green) in Moorhead, built by Curtis Construction, was selected as our inspiration.
On September 26th, 2007, a congregational meeting was held. Using the estimates provided by Roers, EAPC, and Curtis Construction Company for both repair and rebuilding, we formally voted to proceed with building a new church.
A Design Committee was elected: Ted Lloyd and Ben Larson (from the Building Committee) along with Marilyn Thorsgard, Wally Gylten, Becky Korsmo, Don Savage, Amber Howson, and Tammy Peterick.
A Salvage Committee was elected: Jerry Thingelstad and Erik Thorsgard (from the Building Committee) along with Nathan Thingelstad, LuAnn Stevens and Ben Thorsgard.
On November 4, 2007, the congregation voted to choose Curtis Construction as our builder.
At a December 2nd, 2007 congregational meeting it was decided that we should take the steeple down as soon as possible, since we had taken the bell out.
An estimate of $140,000 for demolition of the church was received from Curtis Construction, but the Hutterite Colony at Forrest River, ND offered to do the demo for $10,000, an offer we accepted. The demo of the church building was done in the summer of 2008.
March 9, 2008 the congregation voted to submit a bid for the property being vacated by the Northwood School across the street from the church. The bid was established as $85,500 for the property and $5000 for the recently built library portion, contingent upon demolition of all other school structures. The bid was accepted by the school board, following a lengthy process spelled out by FEMA.
On April 20, 2008, a congregational meeting was held, and we voted to adopt the design proposed by Curtis Construction.
At a congregational meeting on June 29, 2008, it was announced that the school had accepted our bid of $90,500, with demolition contingencies. Curtis Construction bid of $2,109,700.00 to build new church was approved.
April 29, 2009, ground breaking was held, and construction followed.
At an October 18th, 2009 congregational meeting we focused on the items we had excluded from the Curtis Construction Contract: work that we felt we could do ourselves, as well as items we could “hold off’ on for awhile.
Painting and staining, Parking Lot, Sidewalk on south side of building, Floor Coverings, Sanctuary
Seating, and Sound System.
There were countless hours of professional and volunteer work done in the new church. Loretta Sherva with Bonne Sampson, stained and varnished, Mike Schwartz spent countless hours coordinating with the builders, as well as painting, staining. Many people volunteered their equipment and time to paint. Our Women’s Group provided appliances for the kitchen and kitchenette. Don Savage saw to the salvage and professional refurbishing, and installation of the Moller Pipe Organ. He also saw to the installation of the back up propane heaters that were salvaged from the old church. Ben Larson’s crew shingled the new church at a very generous rate.
Our exterior steel doors have a better finish than most cars because Perry Johnson painted them at his auto body shop.
Tim and Audrey Zedjlik were hired as interior design consultants. Together with the Design/Interior Committee, they accomplished something very few people thought was possible: that of putting many pieces of 100 year old Gothic style architectural salvage into a contemporary style building, and it works beautifully.
Since the congregation had decided upon purchasing pew chairs, the oak pews from the old church, along with other items of woodwork and other salvage were sold.
We used the dining room for worship services for about a month prior to the sanctuary being completed. The first worship service in the new sanctuary was Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010, with 339 people in attendance.
I didn’t include a lot of dollar amounts, but one thing I’d like to mention is that we took out a $750,000.00 SBA loan that had a 30 year payment schedule, and roughly 7 years after the completion of the church, we held a symbolic ‘Mortgage Burning’ out in front of the church when we paid it off!
To God be the Glory!