Hermiston Church Is Rebuilding

January 31, 2020 | Church | Paula Oltman

Hermiston Church has begun to rebuild after a fire in June 2018 gutted the 1960s-era building. Demolition has already taken place, and framing is in full swing. A completion date of June 2020 is anticipated, according to contractor Mark Black of Advantage Construction Management in Walla Walla, Washington.

Although the exterior of the burned church looked mostly whole, the interior was a mass of charred wood, broken glass and melted plastic. It was declared structurally unsafe and unsalvageable. Extended negotiations between insurance adjusters resulted in a settlement that fell far short of the amount originally anticipated and planned for.

The congregation voted to accept plans for a somewhat larger, more modern-looking structure to be built on the original property. Included are a fellowship hall and kitchen for cooking classes, health-focused events and “Open Table” community meals, along with a chapel for Spanish-speaking members. There are ample grounds to resume Journey to Bethlehem, a program that has inspired thousands for the past 10 years.

About 100 church members worship in the nearby Hermiston Junior Academy each Sabbath. To date, this congregation has raised $105,000 — largely from their own donations — toward the significant deficit they face in making this prayed-for new church a reality. Assumption of a $250,000 loan is planned.

The contractor is studying ways to make substantial cost cuts, including a generous reduction of his usual fees. Letters have been written to sister churches, community contacts, family and friends. Children bring coins each Sabbath to place in “Josiah’s Treasury Box.” Dinners and on-line/garage sales are scheduled. A GoFundMe page, listed under “Rebuilding After The Church Fire,” was initiated on Sept. 9, 2019. Although helpful, these efforts have fallen short of producing the funding required to complete the project.

The task facing the Hermiston Church may appear daunting, but the congregation’s faith is strong. A number of current members were young participants in the original church building project of the 1960s and remember the benevolence and commitment of earlier generations. Memers firmly believe God will continue to impress many to give sacrificially as the church attempts to recover from a devastating loss. All are praying God will somehow use this loss to glorify His name in the greater Hermiston community.