17 Months after explosion, Dunn Co. church puts finishing touches on new building

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

TOWN OF GRANT, Wis. Seventeen months after an explosion destroyed a Dunn County church, a new building is scheduled to be rededicated with a service next week.

The old St. John's Popple Creek Lutheran Church was one year shy of its 100th birthday. With the new building nearly complete, members said they hope it will take them into the next century.

In Jan. 2013, an explosion from an L-P leak burned the church into a pile of charred rubble.

“Oh, it was shock. We had a lot of memories in that church, but it's just a building. We still have our faith, that's the main thing,” church president Bruce Winget said.

“The general consensus was that if possible, we were gonna rebuild and thanks to the Lord I guess, for having good insurance and we were able to keep the congregation together and rebuild,” he said.

Kristi Welle, who lives nearby, said although she's not a member, the church is an important part of the rural community.

“It reminds us of what's important, the important things of family, community and faith,” Welle said.

Winget, who was baptized and confirmed in the old building, said members found a temporary place of worship at a nearby church while a new church was being built.

“It's important we keep it going and we're so pleased we're able to do that,” Winget said.

After a year of construction, the new building opened in Jan., but was getting its finishing touches Monday. Windows from Eau Claire’s Epiphany Lutheran School were installed and Winget said all the costs were covered by the church's insurance, allowing for necessary upgrades.

“Churches built years ago, before electrical and bathrooms and so all that stuff got added later, so needless to say, it just got put in wherever they could put it, and by having a new facility it has really helped build enthusiasm.”

“It's assuring that that community of faith is still there and is still strong enough to rebuild and they're still interested in rebuilding. And it's been good for the community to see that beacon come back up again, rather than just a scar,” Welle said.

The church, located on County Road W, about nine miles north of Colfax, has an open house from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sunday, with a dedication service to follow.


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