Pigeon Falls church plans next move after devastating fire

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PIGEON FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- It was the lightning strike that drove a local congregation out of its church. Now the members of Pigeon Creek Evangelical Lutheran Church are moving past the shocking fire and starting to discuss plans for the future.

On Aug. 1, lightning struck the historic church in Pigeon Falls.

The next day, the house of God was still standing but with crippling damage.

“They saved almost all of the contents except for some bibles and some hymn books,” said the church’s pastor, Rev. Dale Moe.

After two months of cleaning up, the congregation met on Sunday at its sister church in Pigeon Falls to brainstorm what to do with the badly damaged church.

Moe said the estimated cost to replace the 139-year-old structure is much more than what it was insured for.

“The church was probably insured for $500,000. The insurance company isn't offering that much. To totally replace the building we’ve heard estimates from $1.2 million to $2 million,” Moe said.

The pastor said the congregation is looking into the possibility of saving the building by making a long list of expensive repairs.

“One was to build something much smaller. Another was to build a chapel so you can still do weddings and funerals,” Moe said.

Moe said the historic church is a symbol of the Pigeon Falls community.

“That’s one of the first two things immigrants build before they had homes. They build the school and they got the church going so they became symbols of hope and symbols of a small town,” Moe said.

While the church still hasn’t figured out how much money its going to raise to cover mammoth construction costs, Moe said the congregation could vote on its future by the end of the month.

“Some say it’s a building. Some say it’s a people. But it’s both. It functions as a symbol of our hope,” Moe said.

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