Iowa Church Breaks Ground on $2-Million Facility Where Flooding Wrecked Building Six Years Ago

A church in Iowa that lost its century-old building to flooding broke ground recently on a new $2 million facility.

Salem United Methodist Church of Cedar Rapids, which lost the building in 2008, held a groundbreaking for its new building Sunday between worship services.

The $2 million project will include space for a sanctuary, classrooms, nursery, offices, and library, church officials said. From June 2008, to November 2010, Salem members worshiped at three sites before landing at the 33rd Avenue location.

The Reverend John Louk, pastor at Salem UMC, told The Christian Post about how the church was able to get the funds necessary to rebuild.

"We have cash and pledges for half of the building project. We received over $900,000 from the 'voluntary buyout' wherein the city of Cedar Rapids, using federal money," said Louk. "We had to use part of that money to prepare the space where we've been for the last three-and-a-half years. But our capital campaign last fall, Salem Rising, brought over $400,000 in additional cash and pledges."

For the remainder, Louk told CP that the church is "using a local bank to finance the project, including about $1 million that will need to be paid with, most likely, additional capital campaigns."

For more than a century, Salem UMC resided in downtown Cedar Rapids. Its brick structure had a bell tower visible from Interstate 380.

In June 2008, the Cedar River overflowed its banks and devastated approximately ten square miles of the city, including the old church building of Salem UMC.

The church struggled to find a new home, holding services at numerous temporary sites and also suffering a decline in worship attendance numbers.

In 2010, Salem UMC finally ended up at the property of another UMC congregation, which was closing down and offered their property at a mortgage one fourth the value of the property.

"We have grown in our new location, receiving about 60 new members in the last three-and-a-half years," said Louk. "Our membership is about 220 and we average a little under 200 in our two Sunday morning worship services."

In an interview with local media, Salem UMC building committee chair Linda Curson discussed the building project and how it would be for God's work.

"Sunday school education rooms and a youth room in the basement, and a nice large sanctuary so that we have room for growth," Curson told KCRG-TV9.

"God gave us this land for a reason, and we're just anxious to be able to use it to serve Him."