• December 4, 2016

Worshippers returning to Burlington church

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2013 4:30 am

BURLINGTON, Iowa — Members of First United Methodist Church in Burlington could return to their rebuilt church this weekend, more than six years after an arson fire destroyed the historic downtown building.

The Hawk Eye newspaper reported that churchgoers toured the church Sunday for the first time since the April 2007 fire.

After the blaze, all that was left of the landmark granite church built in 1889 were the foundation and walls.

Kevin Ravelin, of Burlington, was convicted of arson for setting the fire and is serving a 35-year sentence in federal prison.

Opted to rebuild

Members considered building a new church in another part of town but decided instead to salvage what they could of the old structure and rebuild.

“I’m really excited to get back home,” church member Tim Votawhe said while touring the church. “It’s been a long time, but we’ll get used to it again.”

Heather Smith is a member of another church but sometimes attends services at First United Methodist, where her grandparents worshipped.

She said something has been missing since the destructive fire.

“I’ve lived in Burlington for 39 years. I grew up on Third Street. It’s (First United is) part of the downtown,” Smith said. “It was missing.”

Hard to say goodbye

Since the fire, First United Methodist members worshipped for most of that time at Grace United Methodist.

Although they’re eager to return to their rebuilt church, First United Rev. Mike Orthel said the final joint service was difficult.

“It was very hard to say goodbye to Grace,” said Orthel, who wasn’t First United’s pastor when the fire occurred. “They’ve been our host and our home for almost six years now. ... We’ve come to love those folks.”

If workers finish this week, the church plans a 12-hour prayer vigil before the first service Sunday morning.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

Religious Events

  • Worship and Prayer at RLM - the City of Refuge

    • Sun, Dec 04, 9:30 am CST
    • Ruach Life Ministries - City of Refuge, Harker Heights

    Come and see what's up at Ruach Life Ministries - the City of Refuge. We are a non-denominational fellowship that celebrates cultural diversit…

  • Worship and Prayer at RLM - the City of Refuge

    • Sun, Dec 11, 9:30 am CST
    • Ruach Life Ministries - City of Refuge, Harker Heights

    Come and see what's up at Ruach Life Ministries - the City of Refuge. We are a non-denominational fellowship that celebrates cultural diversit…

  • Worship and Prayer at RLM - the City of Refuge

    • Sun, Dec 18, 9:30 am CST
    • Ruach Life Ministries - City of Refuge, Harker Heights

    Come and see what's up at Ruach Life Ministries - the City of Refuge. We are a non-denominational fellowship that celebrates cultural diversit…

  • Worship and Prayer at RLM - the City of Refuge

    • Sun, Dec 25, 9:30 am CST
    • Ruach Life Ministries - City of Refuge, Harker Heights

    Come and see what's up at Ruach Life Ministries - the City of Refuge. We are a non-denominational fellowship that celebrates cultural diversit…

  • MLK Youth Parade-2017

    • Sat, Jan 14, 12:00 pm CST
    • Midtown Houston, Houston

    The MLK Youth Parade Will Kick-Off The 2017 MLK Holiday Weekend. The Parade Will Be Held On January 14, 2017 In Houston's Midtown Originating …

CREATE AN EVENT