Nearly a year after floodwaters all but destroyed its building, a Clendenin church is getting close to moving back into its sanctuary.
Clendenin Advent Christian Church’s main church building and nearby fellowship hall were badly damaged in the June 2016 flood. The church has been rebuilding with the help of donations and volunteers.
The church has been meeting for services in its fellowship hall, which is about 95 percent reconstructed, Pastor Mike Todorovich said.
The church is timing the work so that its ready to move back into the sanctuary as soon new pews are delivered, within 60 to 70 days, Todorovich said. The congregation had initially aimed to be back in around June 23, the one-year anniversary of the flood.
“Well, we failed to realize that pews would have a 90-day delivery time,” Todorovich said. “There’s just more to it than thinking that’s what we want.”
The church’s main building is next to Speedway near the intersection of Elk River Road and U.S. 119 in Clendenin. The building has a sanctuary and classroom space in the basement. Its fellowship hall is located yards away on U.S. 119.
Todorovich and nine other people sought shelter in the church’s balcony on the night of the flood.
“We had no idea the flood was going to be that big,” he said.
The crew at the church at first anticipated staying the night on the sanctuary’s first floor, but the water rose. Before then, the sanctuary hadn’t been flooded in recent history.
“[I] never was afraid,” the pastor said. “However, it’s really weird when the electricity goes off and you hear barrels and logs and things hitting against your church. That is a really weird feeling.”
In the sanctuary, the sub-flooring and ceiling tiles have been replaced. The carpet has been ordered, but the church is waiting to install it when the pews arrive.
A baby grand piano was spared after Todorovich pushed it to the back of the sanctuary, the highest part of the sloped floor. Water got up on the legs of the piano, but not into the piano’s workings.
“So we’re just thrilled to have this very expensive piano that God just allowed us to keep using,” Todorovich said.
The church’s pews were destroyed in the flood after water got into their sides, which have particle board in them. The water caused the pews to warp. They had to be cut up with a chainsaw in order to get through the door, a process Todorovich called “gut wrenching.”
“I was really shocked because I thought we would be able to save the pews,” he said. “I was hoping that we would be able to save them.”
The church office is nearly done, complete with donated office furniture.
“I don’t know the value of it but it’s really nice,” he said. “We would have never bought something that nice to put in the church.. God has just been so great to us in so many ways through this thing.”
In the fellowship hall, a newly remodeled kitchen was destroyed, along with the air conditioning and heating system.
“Absolutely nothing is here that was here before the flood,” he said of the fellowship hall. “Maybe a few of the white tables. We were able to wash them off.”
The church decided to repair the fellowship hall first because it was more open and easier to get into, he said. They started work on the sanctuary next. He anticipates starting in earnest on the church’s basement this fall.
The work is being done with volunteers and with the help of donations. The congregation has not accepted money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.
“Not for any bad reason, but we’ve been blessed and God blessed us... with people to come in and work,” Todorovich said. “Now a lot of people have given us donations and those type things but we have not taken anything from the government.”
Todorovich estimates the work in both buildings has cost more than $100,000.
“Probably significantly more but I’m afraid to use a number without looking at the numbers,” he said.
Todorovich said help on the construction has come from church member and from Mennonite teams and volunteer groups all over the area.
Church member Rick Chandler has worked almost every day since the church voted in February to moved back into the same place.
“He has really given his life to getting this building redone,” Todorovich said.
Chandler said he wanted to help because it’s his church, he said.
“I’d like to see us get from the fellowship hall back in here to worship,” Chandler said. “I think that’s more of a proper setting for a church.”
Reach Lori Kersey at email@example.com, 304-348-1240 or follow @LoriKerseyWV on Twitter.