By Crystal Thompson
TURNER - The American Lutheran Church of Turner was burned to the ground early Monday morning, Christmas Day.
It was reported that the fire started just hours after the church's Christmas Eve service. The cause of the fire is currently unknown. The blaze was called in around 10 p.m. on Sunday, when volunteer fire fighters from Hogeland and Turner areas rushed to the scene. Pastor of the church, Scott Hedegard, was informed of the blaze shortly thereafter by a church member who had heard the news over a police scanner.
About 30 firefighters battled the fire until 3 a.m. Christmas morning. Pastor Hedegard and his family stood watch until about 1 a.m., he said, when it was apparent that the damage was done. "Right now, they're all pretty sick about it," Hedegard said.
Hedegard has been pastor at the American Lutheran Church in Turner for more than four years. He says that the fire will be a major setback for his small congregation, whose membership totals 120, but that they plan to move on.
The church council will meet this afternoon to discuss plans to rebuild. An insurance agent will meet with the members to help them understand their policy and what will be covered. As of right now, Hedegard said, the church just needs to accept the disaster and decide what needs to be done.
"We have to assess where we stand," he said.
The church has been a Turner landmark for 70 years, as well as a cornerstone for praise and worship in the small farming community.
"We will rebuild. That's the feeling I get from the people," Hedegard said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the church can contact Pastor Scott Hedegard at 353-2217 or President Chet Fouts at 379-2641.
"Prayer support is probably the most important thing for us right now," Hedegard said.