MOUNT VERNON — Over the weekend, a new church sanctuary rolled into the parking lot of the Victory Church of Christ on Upper Fredericktown Road. Delivered in two pieces, it was put together Monday morning to make one doublewide trailer where the Victory congregation will worship until its church is rebuilt.
Severely damaged by an early-morning fire Jan. 15, the Victory Church will be repaired and its destroyed sanctuary reconstructed, but that will take some time. The congregation has been gathering on Sunday mornings in a rented meeting room at the Holiday Inn Express, but prefers to get back to its regular worship schedule that also includes Sunday and Wednesday evenings. The doublewide sanctuary on the site will make that possible.
Evangelist Carl Snelling, who pastors the church, said he and his congregation are grateful the building was insured with GuideOne Insurance, one of the largest and oldest insurers of churches in the country. Snelling said the company went right to work after the fire.
“We have nothing but good to say about them,” he said. “They flew a couple fellows, insurance adjusters, out here the next day. And they’re renting this doublewide for us so we can get back home.”
The temporary structure will have electric heat and water and sewer hookups, and will provide one large space that will hold about 40 people.
“It’s not perfect,” said member Bob Hawk as he watched the set-up progress.
“That’s perfect,” he said, with a nod toward the damaged church across the parking lot. “But we’ll use this as a sanctuary until we can get the church rebuilt.”
Snelling said there is no set schedule for the rebuild.
“We meet with the architect this week. You have to have an architect to get the permits. We’d like to be back in the building by fall. That’s a pretty hefty goal, but they say it’s possible. At least [using the temporary sanctuary] we can get back to meeting on Sunday morning and night and Wednesday night and have youth group meetings too. It’s working out really well.”
Hawk admitted the fire and near-loss of the church building has been “devastating.” But, he added, “We’ve got hold of the Lord’s hand and we’re going through.”
The two men watched as a crew from Greenlawn Companies in Columbus braved the frigid air and maneuvered the two halves of the doublewide into place, using a remote-controlled hydraulic “House Kat” mover to lift the heavy steel hitches and push and pull the structure.
Snelling said investigators from the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office and the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said the fire was electrical in nature and started high in the sanctuary. The OFM and ATF routinely investigate all church fires.