By: Jillian Wilson
Sue Stontz has been going to the Zion Lutheran Church in Kewanee for seven years. When a fire destroyed the building back in September, she was devastated.
"It was heartbreaking. When you see all the damage you just cannot imagine it being the same again," says Sue Stontz, a parishioner.
Smoke and water damage wreaked havoc on the church's interior.
"All the electrical, probably 90% of the electrical in this building was taken completely out and we reinstalled all the new equipment," says John Simaytis, the electrician.
"We ended up gutting the whole church and putting it all back in order," says Jason Vanopdorp, the carpenter.
While crews worked tirelessly on fixing the insides, parishioners spent their Sunday mass at a local gym.
"We had an outpouring of support from our community. We remained a church even though we did not have a church to go to," says Stontz.
Eight months later, the Kewanee church is finally restored.
Today was the first day of mass in the newly transformed building.
"It has been a long process, but everybody's worked together and to come through the doors today was absolutely wonderful," says Stontz.
The pride of the church isn't just felt by the parishioners.
"It makes me feel good. Everyone's complimented on how the church looks both with this electrical and cosmetically. I feel like of proud," says Simaytis.
Sue says it was the community wide effort that makes the church live on.
"The parishioners all went above and beyond and it's just really nice to know you have that kind of a church family," says Stontz.
All the choir music was destroyed in the fire, so a neighboring church let the Zion choir use their music and practice room.