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Mazomanie church welcomes congregation back after fire

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MAZOMAINE (WKOW) -- Church bells rang and welcomed the community on Sunday at the Mazomanie United Church of Christ for the first time in two years since lightning struck the steeple and bell.

"At five minutes to worship time, we always ring the bell. And we haven't been able to do that for two years," said pastor, Denise Cole. "So we were able to ring the bell this morning to tell everyone to come to church."

Cole said she usually has the ushers ring the bell but on Sunday she came early.

"I was so excited. And people were saying 'No, no pastor, you have to go first. So, I got to be the first one to ring the bell," the pastor said.

The bell is an iconic part of the church and on August 11, 2019, it was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm.

"The steeple is a landmark of the village. You can see it from various vantage points," said church board member, Mike Klessig. "And I just remember on different places in town where you look out and the steeple wasn't there anymore, and now it's back. So that's a blessing."

Klessig said this isn't the first time the church has experienced physical hardship.

"We, as a community came together several years ago for the floods that hit this area. And then right after that, we had the fire," he said.

"And then right after that, we have furnace problems, and our pipes burst. So that's started the process all over again."

Jim Craney has been a member of the church for over 60 years, he's also the facility manager and he says despite everything, the church has come a long way.

"I think we're thriving as best we can and surviving between the flood and the fire. I think we've done remarkably well," Craney said.

A combination of the pandemic and the fire kept the church apart for a long time but the pastor and the members said it feels good to have the bell back and in its place again.

Payton Muse

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