MAZOMAINE (WKOW) -- Nearly two years after a lightning strike caused a fire in the steeple of the Mazomanie United Church of Christ, the bell is up and ready to ring Sunday.
The pastor of the church, Denise Cole, said the repairs started in February 2020. However, there was a setback after some radiators near the bell tower froze and flooded parts of the church. She said the pandemic also slowed progress.
Despite the challenges, the church repairs finished this week, and Cole said the congregation is getting ready to return to the building.
"I made a little sheet and it said 'Welcome Home' and had all the bright colors, and now it really feels like home now," Cole said. "It's like, yeah, when we hear that bell ring, we're home."
Lifelong Mazomanie residents Sharon, 79, and Dick Royston, 81, watched helplessly as the church burned in August 2019.
"We stood out here and watched it burn, it was very teary eyed, very scary," said Denise. "That's part of our lives. So we were watching it and praying."
After the fire, the church sent the bell to the original bell company in Ohio, where it was repaired and restored. Wednesday morning, some members of the church, including the Roystons, gathered to watch as the bell went up and rang for the first time in nearly two years.
"It just gave me goosebumps, your whole body," said Denise.
Dick said, for him, the bell is the heart of the church.
"The bell is the greatest thing for me," he said.
The husband and wife are both on the church board, and Sharon said it was really tough not being able to be together and see everyone's faces during the pandemic.
"We're a small congregation, but we're a family," she said.
That family will finally be able to reunite in their church for the first time since the fire when services resume Sunday at 10 a.m.