The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A resurrection story

As one church closes, another rises from the ashes

When Bishop Bill Rindy tells the story of Zion and Blanchard Lutheran churches in the Eastern North Dakota Synod, he likens their relationship to that of organ recipient and donor.

Only the front doors were left standing after a fire last May destroyed Zion in Oriska. "They could have simply closed up and gone to other area congregations," Rindy said. "But the 23 children God has called to be part of their Sunday school compelled them to rebuild."

Levi Trader, 5, looks at a collection
Levi Trader, 5, looks at a collection of photographs that document the May 16, 2011, fire that destroyed the original Zion building

And so they did.

About the same time Blanchard Lutheran, 50 miles to the northeast, was deciding that its ministry was complete and it was time to close after 75 years on the prairie.

Rindy called up Blanchard's leaders to see how they could help Zion, which could only afford a new shell of a building. While Blanchard's building (most of it built by log) couldn't be moved, a conversation between the two congregations eventually took place about what might be donated from a dying church so another could live.

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