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First Baptist Church Returning To Normal

October 10, 2011, 6:00 PM by David Brown

First Baptist Church Returning To Normal
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It's been one week since a fire damaged parts of First Baptist Church in Sioux Falls. The fire started on the third floor of the nearly 60-year-old building, forcing the evacuation of the preschool and day care inside.

But despite the damage, the faith at First Baptist remains strong. And the cleanup hasn't impacted the church's day-to-day operations.

It's not exactly church music, but the sounds of cleanup crews are welcome for First Baptist Church.

"The biggest thing we deal with right now is the noise of the machines," First Baptist Church ministry coordinator Scott Aseltine said. "We still have air scrubbers going; we still have dehumidifiers going."

Ever since a fire destroyed parts of the third and fourth floors last Monday, cleaning crews have been working day and night to get the building back in order.

"My custodial crew has been exceptional," Aseltine said. "They've taken over a good brunt of the work and still tried to get our church back into shape for the year."

Aside from some dirt and soot, most of the church was actually spared from the fire. The preschool and day care are full of kids, and the sanctuary looks untouched.

"We had to move three Sunday school classes because of the location near the damage," Aseltine said. "Other than that, we were in normal mode yesterday."

Members of the congregation say Sunday services went on just as usual. But the bond they now share after the fire is even stronger.

"I think it's one of those situations that has brought the congregation together, a little closer," 50-year parishioner Mickey Woodden said.

There's no timetable for when all of the repairs to First Baptist will be complete. But the quick turnaround to normalcy is more than enough.

"We were just grateful we were able to be in this building," Aseltine said. "With the south wind we had, with as hot as the fire got immediately, we were very lucky to contain it to that area."

"It's given something for us to talk about and we're just thankful to God that everything worked out as well as it did," Woodden said.

Even though Sunday's services were in the sanctuary, the balcony was closed because of the damage. The church hopes to re-open it soon.

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