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After derecho damage, church planning return to indoor services

Published: Sep. 27, 2020 at 3:48 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - After weeks of service held outside, a Cedar Rapids church damaged in the August 10th derecho is making plans to head back inside.

With its roof ripped off, insulation and wiring exposed, Sunday service at River of Life Church in Cedar Rapids continued.

“Pretty much so, a complete destruction," Steve Irwin, the lead pastor said. “They are going to have to take all of the skins off and the purlins off the main beams, but we are going to be able to maintain the main beams and footprint.”

What once was a 900 person sanctuary now sits exposed to the elements. However, a bit of good news came last week as building occupancy limits over safety concerns were removed by the City.

“With the rain and the cold, it really excited people when I said we would be back in the building on the 11th of October,” he said.

That’s because ever since the derecho, the congregation met in a tent in the church parking lot. Irwin said with such a large facility, before the storm, they were able to hold service safely despite Covid-19. Now, as they plan to return to a section of the building not damaged, they’ll have to make changes.

“We are excited that we have occupancy. We aren’t moving quickly, because trying to maintain Covid safety in a smaller room is going to be a challenge. So we are going to multiple services, but we think we have a plan now and we think we are going to be able to deal with Covid and the destruction all at the same time,” Irwin said.

Irwin said he’s not yet sure what the costs of repairs will be or what insurance will end up covering, but through the destruction, brings a new chapter.

“I can’t even tell you how excited we are now.” Irwin said. “We are looking at actually maybe reshaping some things,. So now I think we are taking the vison we had already to reach the city for Christ and now how do we do that as a community and with our facility.”

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