Church reopens 17 months after fire caused severe damage

Posted at 9:43 PM, Sep 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-04 09:20:13-04

CLEARFIELD, Utah -- The flashing sign and new entrance that greet you only tell part of the history of the Clearfield Community Church.

Pastor John Parsley can tell you the rest.

“I remember very well,” Parsley said.

The church’s pastor since 2008, Parsley can recount the 1947 opening of the decades old building, as well as its closure.

“March 19, 2013; 2:33 p.m. is when the alarm went off,” Parsley said.

That afternoon, Parsley had to lead his congregation from across the street, as they watched a fire quickly destroy what they had built over the last few decades.

“It took me awhile to realize what had happened, and then what was ahead of us,” Parsley said.

The fire took nearly everything, their worship center, their books, and in some ways, all that came with that.

“People of faith were baptized here. Funerals were held here,” Parsley said. “All those special events that are life events for so many happened within these walls.”

But just as quickly as it was lost, a congregation found a way to put the pieces back together.

“I got here in 1972,” said church member Bill Storing.

With the help of another member, Storing headed up a 17-month reconstruction process.

“Stucco people, painters, framers, we couldn’t have got a better crew, I don’t think, to build this,” Storing said.

Finally, on August 10, the church reopened.

“I wept a little bit, right in front of God and everybody,” Parsley said.

Already, it’s starting to feel like it used to, with regular faces and services returning.

“It’s kind of like coming back home after you’ve been gone for years. A lot of things change. Your hometown changes, your house may change, but it still has the same feeling that it did,” said Laura Phillips, a youth leader at the church.

It’s bringing new life to an old church, where a long and sometimes difficult history has laid the foundation for its future.

“Everything fell in, both the ceilings, and went on down through this floor and down to the basement floor,” Parsley said. “And it’s risen up again. That’s our watch word, Resurrection.”