Posted by: mollyrossiter | May 15, 2009

Another congregation bids farewell

A Cedar Rapids congregation is preparing to bid farewell to a building that took on more water than it could handle in the floods last June.

 The congregation of the Cedar Rapids Christian Center, 609 First Ave. SW, will hold a farewell service in the church parking lot at 6 p.m. Sunday.

It’s the last service to be held on the property before the building is demolished.

“For a number of people in our congregation, this is going to be a very, very emotion-filled time,” said the Rev. Barry M. Foster, senior pastor at the Christian Center. “We have people who have been with this church for more than 50 years. This might have been where they were married, where they were baptized or where their children were baptized. It’s a very memory-filled place.”

Like many other congregations and homeowners hit hard by the Cedar River’s torrent, Foster and the Christian Center congregation thought they were prepared when they moved basement items 18 inches off the floor and brought electronics up from the basement to the main floor.

By the Thursday of the flood week, Foster knew they were wrong.

“I woke up with a start that morning and realized we hadn’t gotten the computer units out of the building,” he said.

He and his wife received permission from the National Guard to wade through sometimes thigh-high water to get to the church to retrieve the computers.

“I stopped at the top of the stairs and looked down into the basement,” he said.

Water had forced the basement windows open and was “just pouring into the building.”

“I knew at that moment the basement was lost,” Foster said.

By the time the river crested the next day, June 13, the church basement had filled with water and the river risen four feet into the main floor.

The congregation met the first Sunday after the flood at River of Life Ministries, 3801 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, but is now holding services at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 4401 42nd St. NE.

Foster said the church is awaiting direction from the national office before proceeding with plans, but said the congregation is looking for a long-term temporary home for now, preferably on the west side of the river.

“We just know we’re supposed to be on the west side,” he said.

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