APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — Two days after the roof collapsed at Heritage Lutheran Church, the congregation held Sunday service in the parking lot.
The roof over the attached gymnasium collapsed Friday, and the entire building is now off limits. It’s not yet known if too much snow, a design flaw, or a combination of the two, is to blame.
Laura Ronay and her family were on vacation when the gymnasium roof collapsed. Sunday was the first time they saw the damage.
“Shocking, it was shocking,” said Ronay, a parishioner at Heritage Lutheran.
For 35 years, Ronay’s family has celebrated some of their happiest moments here.
“I was baptized here. My kids were baptized here, and I have a baby on the way and that baby will be baptized here,” said Ronay.
So, it was only natural to be there as the church copes with its worst moment.
“This is our family, so we were going to be here without question,” said Ronay.
Likewise, Jane Fahning, another parishioner at Heritage Lutheran, said she didn’t think the damage would be as bad as it is.
“It was much worse than I anticipated. I didn’t realize how badly the north wall had fallen out,” she said.
During the 15-minute service, Pastor Karl Anderson had one message for his parishioners.
“I had a lot to say, but it’s cold outside, so just a few minutes to say it,” he said. “We lost a gym. We didn’t lose a congregation, a gym is gone. We’re not gone.”
When the roof came crashing down, it also may have triggered one unexpected outcome, a stronger congregation.
“We’ll get through,” said Fahning.
Pastor Anderson said they hope to be back in the church by next weekend. Right now, the building is still considered too dangerous to allow people inside.