Holding onto memories


Crews to continue demolition Saturday at site of burned church

By Nicole Cooke - [email protected]



Demolition of Sedalia’s historic First United Methodist Church began Friday morning at Fourth Street and Osage Avenue. A fire late Wednesday evening completely destroyed the downtown church that was built in 1888. The cause of the fire is still undetermined. Faith Bemiss | Democrat


The top of the FUMC turret begins falling during demolition of the church that was destroyed by fire late Wednesday evening. Faith Bemiss | Democrat


Working gingerly, an employee of B&P Excavating knocks down the southern portion of the FUMC turret late Friday morning. As the church was slowly demolished, the Sedalia Fire Department was monitoring a small fire still smoldering in the eastern portion of the ruins. Faith Bemiss | Democrat


Sedalia Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Harrell stands in front of an Empire District Gas Co. truck and watches as the top of the FUMC turret falls Friday morning during demolition of the historic church. Faith Bemiss | Democrat


From left, First United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Mike Cassidy, FUMC Pastor Jim Downing and FUMC longtime member Beverly Rice watch from the sidewalk on Fourth Street as the crew from B&P Excavating begin tearing down the front wall of the church Friday morning. “It’s unreal,” Rice said of watching it come down. “As everyone has, I have a lot of memories there, but God is good and things will continue on. Our pastors have a wonderful attitude and will keep us all thinking positive.” Nicole Cooke | Democrat


First United Methodist Church Pastor Jim Downing, left, and Sedalia Mayor Steve Galliher pause for a moment together in front of the church early Friday morning before demolition began about an hour later. Nicole Cooke | Democrat


Workers from Impact Signs carry the First United Methodist Church sign off of the property Friday morning before demolition began. A few minutes later, the Impact crane pulled the rest of the sign off the ground and onto the truck. Nicole Cooke | Democrat


A B&P Excavating worker moves rubble around the FUMC site Friday afternoon to create a path to the rear of the building so work could start quickly on demolishing the other half Saturday. Nicole Cooke | Democrat


Workers help guide the First United Methodist Church’s cornerstone onto a truck for the congregation Friday afternoon. Nicole Cooke | Democrat


The remaining half of FUMC is pictured around 3 p.m. Friday. B&P Excavating crews stopped working for the day shortly after the photo so the structure would remain stable overnight. Crews will finish demolishing the structure Saturday. Nicole Cooke | Democrat


Crews to continue demolition Saturday at site of burned church

By Nicole Cooke

[email protected]

Demolition of Sedalia’s historic First United Methodist Church began Friday morning at Fourth Street and Osage Avenue. A fire late Wednesday evening completely destroyed the downtown church that was built in 1888. The cause of the fire is still undetermined. Faith Bemiss | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo-1.jpgDemolition of Sedalia’s historic First United Methodist Church began Friday morning at Fourth Street and Osage Avenue. A fire late Wednesday evening completely destroyed the downtown church that was built in 1888. The cause of the fire is still undetermined. Faith Bemiss | Democrat

The top of the FUMC turret begins falling during demolition of the church that was destroyed by fire late Wednesday evening. Faith Bemiss | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo-2.jpgThe top of the FUMC turret begins falling during demolition of the church that was destroyed by fire late Wednesday evening. Faith Bemiss | Democrat

Working gingerly, an employee of B&P Excavating knocks down the southern portion of the FUMC turret late Friday morning. As the church was slowly demolished, the Sedalia Fire Department was monitoring a small fire still smoldering in the eastern portion of the ruins. Faith Bemiss | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo-3.jpgWorking gingerly, an employee of B&P Excavating knocks down the southern portion of the FUMC turret late Friday morning. As the church was slowly demolished, the Sedalia Fire Department was monitoring a small fire still smoldering in the eastern portion of the ruins. Faith Bemiss | Democrat

Sedalia Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Harrell stands in front of an Empire District Gas Co. truck and watches as the top of the FUMC turret falls Friday morning during demolition of the historic church. Faith Bemiss | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo-4.jpgSedalia Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Harrell stands in front of an Empire District Gas Co. truck and watches as the top of the FUMC turret falls Friday morning during demolition of the historic church. Faith Bemiss | Democrat

From left, First United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Mike Cassidy, FUMC Pastor Jim Downing and FUMC longtime member Beverly Rice watch from the sidewalk on Fourth Street as the crew from B&P Excavating begin tearing down the front wall of the church Friday morning. “It’s unreal,” Rice said of watching it come down. “As everyone has, I have a lot of memories there, but God is good and things will continue on. Our pastors have a wonderful attitude and will keep us all thinking positive.” Nicole Cooke | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo5.jpgFrom left, First United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Mike Cassidy, FUMC Pastor Jim Downing and FUMC longtime member Beverly Rice watch from the sidewalk on Fourth Street as the crew from B&P Excavating begin tearing down the front wall of the church Friday morning. “It’s unreal,” Rice said of watching it come down. “As everyone has, I have a lot of memories there, but God is good and things will continue on. Our pastors have a wonderful attitude and will keep us all thinking positive.” Nicole Cooke | Democrat

First United Methodist Church Pastor Jim Downing, left, and Sedalia Mayor Steve Galliher pause for a moment together in front of the church early Friday morning before demolition began about an hour later. Nicole Cooke | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo6.jpgFirst United Methodist Church Pastor Jim Downing, left, and Sedalia Mayor Steve Galliher pause for a moment together in front of the church early Friday morning before demolition began about an hour later. Nicole Cooke | Democrat

Workers from Impact Signs carry the First United Methodist Church sign off of the property Friday morning before demolition began. A few minutes later, the Impact crane pulled the rest of the sign off the ground and onto the truck. Nicole Cooke | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo7.jpgWorkers from Impact Signs carry the First United Methodist Church sign off of the property Friday morning before demolition began. A few minutes later, the Impact crane pulled the rest of the sign off the ground and onto the truck. Nicole Cooke | Democrat

A B&P Excavating worker moves rubble around the FUMC site Friday afternoon to create a path to the rear of the building so work could start quickly on demolishing the other half Saturday. Nicole Cooke | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo8.jpgA B&P Excavating worker moves rubble around the FUMC site Friday afternoon to create a path to the rear of the building so work could start quickly on demolishing the other half Saturday. Nicole Cooke | Democrat

Workers help guide the First United Methodist Church’s cornerstone onto a truck for the congregation Friday afternoon. Nicole Cooke | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo9.jpgWorkers help guide the First United Methodist Church’s cornerstone onto a truck for the congregation Friday afternoon. Nicole Cooke | Democrat

The remaining half of FUMC is pictured around 3 p.m. Friday. B&P Excavating crews stopped working for the day shortly after the photo so the structure would remain stable overnight. Crews will finish demolishing the structure Saturday. Nicole Cooke | Democrat
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030516ChurchDemo10.jpgThe remaining half of FUMC is pictured around 3 p.m. Friday. B&P Excavating crews stopped working for the day shortly after the photo so the structure would remain stable overnight. Crews will finish demolishing the structure Saturday. Nicole Cooke | Democrat

As the smell of smoke lingered in the air from the massive blaze two days prior, demolition crews began tearing down what remained of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia on Friday morning.

Workers from B&P Excavating were on scene just before 9 a.m. and worked to get equipment ready while they waited for a crew from Impact Signs to remove the church’s sign in front of the building. Onlookers, members of the media and public safety officials from various entities chatted while waiting for demolition to begin, but everyone fell silent as the first stones began to fall.

B&P Project Manager Dennis Steele said he was pleased with how demolition proceeded Friday and that no neighboring structures were damaged. The crew finished demolishing the front half of the structure in the early afternoon, spending their remaining time on site creating a path to the rear of the building to make for a quick start Saturday.

“Where the structure’s at, if we continue (Friday) to get to another decent point we would probably weaken some corners,” Steele said of the decision to only tear down half of the building Friday. “We’ll knock it out (Saturday). We would have unstable walls overnight as opposed to walls with corners, which makes them much more stable to stay the night.”

Steele said he does not know what the church council’s intentions are regarding cleanup of the site once demolition is complete.

“Our goal was to get the walls down and on the ground so it was a safer work environment and not causing potential danger to other buildings, passersby and power lines,” he said.

Another goal was to preserve the church’s cornerstone and B&P workers removed it Friday afternoon from the rubble, completely intact. FUMC Pastor Jim Downing said they managed to save several items from the building in addition to the sign and cornerstone before demolition began.

“One of the items we were able to recover was the handle to the front door with part of the wood from the door itself still attached, charred by the fire but still something we can hold onto, and one of the lanterns that was at the front entryway,” Downing said. “We think those will be very meaningful and significant to just remembering what we’re about — opening doors to faith for people and being a light to the community for Christ.

“And then we have a little tree that survived all of this on the corner that was a little dogwood tree and we pulled that up this morning. We hope to grow it and as things are redeveloped down here, it’d be beautiful to plant it back in the spot that it came from.”

Downing and Associate Pastor Mike Cassidy were at the site all morning, talking with church members as they stopped by.

“Part of our staff being here, we wanted to be a comfort to the people who for the first time are coming and seeing it with their own eyes and to remind them we’re all in this together and no one needs to feel isolated and for everyone to cherish the memories that we have here,” he explained. “With these stones coming down, it doesn’t nullify those memories. Hold onto those, they’re a gift.”

FUMC’s 10:50 a.m. Sunday service will take place at the Celebration Center on 32nd Street. Downing noted they are “one church with two locations, so it’s all the same family.”

No plans have been discussed regarding future plans for the downtown FUMC site. Downing said the church council will meet next week.

“Initially we have to get over the shock of it and give ourselves time to truly grieve,” he said. “And part of grief is walking through and not getting stuck. After we’ve had that time, I think we’ll be able to make a better, God-guided decision instead of speculation.”

Sedalia Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Harrell said some of the sidewalks in the area would be opened up Friday night and possibly Saturday morning for citizens to walk around and stop to see the church remains, but that they don’t want anyone walking in the street. City officials especially don’t want citizens walking up to the demolition site to take home stones, as the area is still considered dangerous.

“We appreciate people understanding right now this is a major safety issue,” he said. “The church will make a decision soon about what to do with the stones.”

The sidewalks will be partially closed off again Saturday as demolition begins again.

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.

Sedalia Democrat

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.

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