After completing their investigation into a fire that destroyed Wesley United Methodist Church in Marshfield on Sunday, the State Fire Marshall and FBI have determined that there was no criminal associations and the fire was accidental in origin.
“We’re all clear there, and we’re very thankful for that,” said Larry Shortess, Wesley United Methodist Church Council President.
Cause of the fire has not been officially determined, but presumed to have originated in the kitchen area of the church facility.
The City of Marshfield has returned the church building into in the congregation’s custody, and a fence will be installed around the property for security reasons.
The Insurance agency is currently completing their investigation as the church congregation formulates a plan of action for moving forward. They are currently working on temporary solutions for church meeting options for the regular service. Discussions are still in the early stages.
“We’re certainly don’t have any rebuilding plans. We just need to get through this first phase,” said Shortess.
Wesley United Methodist’s congregation has been worshiping in Marshfield since 1882, and the church had occupied a space on the corner of Third Street and Maple Avenue since 1886. On June 11, 1922, the downtown red brick worship building was dedicated on that location.
A fire at the church was reported at approximately 2:00pm on Sunday. Marshfield Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene minutes later and fought the blaze and residual smoke into the night. Assistance arrived from Richfield and Hewitt Volunteer Departments. Doine Excavating Inc was called to the scene to help provide access to the interior of the structure.
During and after the fire, there was an outpouring of community support for the congregation.
“It’s just been wonderful the love that this community has come forward with,” said Shortess. “It’s just unreal. We’re very grateful for that.”
“The church is not the building, it’s the people,” said Maggie Robinson, a congregation member since moving to Marshfield three years ago. “And this church is really good people. They’re kind and openminded and openhearted.”
“We’ll get through this thing,” added Shortess. “We’ve got some very dedicated people, a wonderful pastor.”
A fund has been established at Forward Bank in Marshfield for the congregation. To donate, call or visit a Forward Bank location.
Faith Lutheran Church has invited Wesley to a party of love and support on Thursday evening 5:30 to 7:30. This is a community gathering and everyone is welcome.