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New Hope set to close - Clinton, Iowa
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
N 41° 50.939 W 090° 11.574
15T E 733036 N 4636819
Quick Description: This two-story painted brick building is located at 401 North 4th Street in Clinton Iowa.
Location: Iowa, United States
Date Posted: 6/15/2019 4:45:54 PM
Waymark Code: WM10R8P
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 0

Long Description:
This two-story painted brick building is located at 401 North 4th Street in Clinton Iowa. The sanctuary of this church burned in a fire back in 2009 and the steeple was set ablaze in 2014. The church offices, Sunday School rooms, and the signage survived the fire. The bell tower was removed from the sanctuary and placed on the ground as part of a small pocket park. According to news stories, this is no longer a church as of 2010.

CLINTON — Exactly a year to the day after a fire destroyed the New Hope Lutheran Church sanctuary, the congregation will hold its final service Sunday at First United Presbyterian Church before disbanding upon a recommendation by the Southeastern Iowa Synod.

Many questions remain a year after the blaze, which Clinton Fire Department officials say is still unsolved. But as the history of New Hope settles into the ashes, leaders of the congregation expressed the hope that good will rise from tragedy.

“Even with our death, our closing, we will deliver new hope to other organizations,” said Bill Trude, property manager for the church. “We will live on through our gifts to the community.”

Trude estimates the church has about $800,000 in insurance funds originally meant to help the congregation rebuild after the fire Jan. 10, 2009, at the church’s former sanctuary at 401 N. Fourth St.

After allowing for closing costs, the church plans to distribute the remaining funds among 45 charitable organizations statewide. Trude said the church council chose not to release the names of the organizations, but added that most were located within Clinton County.

The church also will lend support to an Episcopalian church starting up in the area. The church’s office area and education wing were saved from the fire, and Trude said New Hope will donate the partially renovated building to the new church. He was unable to give the name of the new congregation.

Also, the remaining property on New Hope’s grounds could be turned into a park for the community.

In November, the church proposed a plan to the city to donate a portion of the property for green space. The 40-by-90-foot parcel of land would be cleaned up and landscaped by Clinton Trees Forever, which would pursue a grant to cover the cost of the work.

Trude said the church wants to incorporate New Hope’s old bell and steeple — saved from the ravaged sanctuary — within the design. He said the city council could discuss the project as early as next week, but emphasized that the green space remains a proposal at this point.

Historical documents and artifacts from the church, which was founded as St. Johnnes by Danish immigrants in 1876, also will be preserved for generations to come.

Because the church’s office area was saved from the fire, ancient historical records written in Danish from the church’s founding survived the blaze. Trude said the records are to be archived at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque.

A replica of an early Dane immigrant transport ship also salvaged from the fire will go to the Clinton County Historical Society, according to Trude.

Trude was reticent about the synod’s reasons for making a recommendation to close the church, saying instead that it was best to focus on the good that will be accomplished in the congregation’s final efforts.

“We’re doing what’s best for everyone, and we don’t want the negativity brought back up,” he said.

Trude expressed gratitude to First United Presbyterian Church, 400 Fifth Ave. South, for being a haven to members of New Hope since the fire displaced the congregation last year. New Hope’s final service will be held in First United’s Great Hall at 10:45 a.m. Sunday.

“We’re giving help to a start-up congregation, but (First United) took us in when the fire happened,” Trude said. “They have ministered to our congregation and our church as a whole.”

Bishop Michael L. Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod made the recommendation in September for New Hope to close, and the church’s council recently voted to follow the recommendation. The bishop said he considered a variety of factors in his decision.

“It wasn’t any one thing,” he said. “It was a constellation of different things. New Hope has been facing a number of challenges.”

Burk said the fallout from the fire, the church’s dwindling numbers and some inner conflict were all part of the consideration for the church’s closing.

The congregation’s numbers fell from 65 to about 45 or 50 in the fall of 2008, and the group dwindled to about 30 when more members left after the fire. But Burk was hesitant to focus on the past.

“I think the efforts on the part of that little community of faith to rebound from that fire were nothing short of heroic, and I think that the compassion of the neighborhood showed to New Hope was something to be lauded,” said Burk. “But there’s a bigger picture here, and I think that they caught a vision of that bigger picture, and that was to help others with the resources that they have.”

- Clinton Herald 8 January 2010

Type of publication: Newspaper

When was the article reported?: 1/8/2010

Publication: Clinton Herald

Article Url: [Web Link]

Is Registration Required?: no

How widespread was the article reported?: regional

News Category: Society/People

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