Haas Methodist Church will rebuild in current location


   Like the legendary phoenix, David Haas Memorial United Methodist Church will rise from its ashes with its mission and history intact but with a renewed sense of purpose.
  The church was destroyed by fire on Nov. 20. Its congregation is moving forward with plans to rebuild the church at its same location. Services have been held elsewhere since the fire, but church members hope to be back on the church campus in time for Christmas services, Rev. Brian Ridgedell said.
   Ridgedell, the church pastor, said the educational building will be turned into a temporary sanctuary for worship services. The building sustained minor damage in the fire but is usable.
   “With the help of local contractors, the educational building is being transformed,” Ridgedell said.
   Electrical and natural gas service has been restored to the building.
   “We are hoping we can start having worship services in the building around Christmas,” Ridgedell noted.
   Until that “transformation” is finished, the congregation will hold 10:50 a.m. Sunday services in a sister church in Evergreen.
   Ridgedell said UMC District Superintendent John Cannon and Bishop Cynthia Harvey attended a recent worship service in Evergreen “to offer words of encouragement to the congregation.”
Fire investigators believe the fire was caused by an electrical issue in the attic. The flames quickly spread throughout the church. Firefighters were able to save the parsonage and the education building.
   Ridgedell said the church will be rebuilt at the Church Street site, but details on how it will be rebuilt have not been decided. For example, engineers will inspect the outer walls left standing to determine if they can be used in the reconstruction or must be demolished.
   “Until we get that report, we can’t say what will be rebuilt at the site,” he added,
   Church leaders have been meeting to discuss the future of the church buildings.
  “The support from the local community and local churches has been overwhelming,” Ridgedell continued. “The church that I used to pastor will send us hymnals and offering plates. There has been an outpouring of generosity.”
   The Boy Scouts, Venture Crew (Coed), and Cub Scouts units that had met at the church are now meeting in the home of Vinson and Lucrecia Mouser on Lyles Lane in Bunkie. 
   Vinson Mouser said the Boy Scout Troop will continue to meet at his home until a permanent meeting place can be determined with the church.