Unsure what to do next

The water line from the 2011 flood can clearly be seen on St. John’s Lutheran Church on Sept. 22, 2012. The church is in bad shape, and its congregation has yet to decide what to do with it. Photo by Teresa Avila

By Teresa Avila

The stained glass in St. John’s Lutheran Church is just visible from light able to seep past the outside plyboard. The wallpaper beside the window hangs in a damp sheet, the hardwood floor completely gone.

In the next room, Nancy Peters, a St. John’s congregation member, stands among stacked pews, a disembodied set of three carpeted steps and other odds and ends from the church. Broken glass and plaster grit underfoot.

“It just tears you apart to see how much damage there has been,” Peters said.

She’s referring to the 2011 Missouri River flood that put large swathes of Atchison County underwater from June to October. The county had warning of the flood, so members of the church could move pews and valuable items out of harm’s way. What they didn’t expect was four months of floodwaters.

A year later, the smell of mold is still heavy in the church.

“We don’t know yet what we’re going to do,” Peters said.

It depends on what the church’s Elders decide, she said. Some want to restore the church, others prefer to let it go.

The congregation has joined another Lutheran church, and may end up merging with them permanently.

— Edited by Darren Orf

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One response to “Unsure what to do next

  1. Good job of focusing on the emotion and loss behind the flood. It’s haunting.

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