The past summer we drove through Pigeon Falls only to be shocked by the absence of Pigeon Creek Evangelical Lutheran Church, the building that was the Borresons’ church home since they came to America. As you may remember, a fire destroyed the church building the night of August 1 a year ago (2011), and the congregation had the wrenching decision to re-build or not. The decision was “not rebuild” and the fire-damaged structure was demolished. As we paused there in the church parking lot, the empty space on the hilltop skyline found an echo in the hole in my heart. And in many others, I expect.
(If you click here, you will see the church both after and before the fire.)
I can imagine what a difficult decision that was, to rebuild or not. So much history, so many memories, so many tears of sadness and joy are connected with such a building. I can imagine the heart says, “Yes, rebuild!” while the head says, “Wait a minute; we need to think about this.” I just came across an Oct. 27, 2011 article from the Trempealeau County News that announced the hard decision. Even though the cost of replacement would have been perhaps $700,000 with fire insurance paying but $130,000, the vote was still close: 32 to 28 not to rebuild but to demolish. The decision was made. Even demolishing wouldn’t come cheap but could be covered up to 100 per cent. At the time of this article, that information was pending.
Even though a song might have the words, “the church is not a building, the church is not a steeple” – and pastors like me are ready to remind folks of that truth – the fact is that this is hard loss. As in grieving a long-time, faithful family friend, life goes on but the heart does not forget. It was be interesting to know how many Borreson baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and funerals took place within those walls. So very many. So the Borreson family and many others give thanks to God for this building that that helped nourish faith and, in the end, pointed to something more abiding than itself – that is, the God in whom we live and move and have our being.