Looking to the past and future on anniversary of Spring Green ch - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Looking to the past and future on anniversary of Spring Green church fire

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SPRING GREEN (WKOW)-- The sound of music can be heard outside the old U.S. Post Office building in Spring Green every Sunday starting at 10:00 a.m.

Every week a devout group of Christian followers gathers to celebrate God and their love for one another. While the quarters may be tight, especially for a six-piece band featuring two keyboards and a set of drums, it hasn't stopped members of the Cornerstone Church from worshiping every week.

"The building isn't what makes a church," Cornerstone Pastor Derek Miller says. "A church is where people come together and they join their hearts in worship."

That lesson was learned the hard way for Pastor Miller and his followers. November 14th, 2015 they were dealt the biggest blow their congregation has ever had to endure. Miller recalls getting the phone call that fateful evening.

"My wife and I were out of town with friends," Miller explains. "It has been quite a year, quite an adventure for us after the fire,"

The cause of the fire was ultimately pinned on some old wiring in the church that was well over a hundred years old. Miller says the church itself was built back in the mid 1800's and had been an important part of the Spring Green identity ever since.

Very little of that identity was salvaged from the fire. Miller says an old bell and a single pane of stained glass were the only surviving pieces.

"We really wanted to incorporate both into the new church," Miller says.

When church members broke ground on their new building back in June, they were already talking about ways to incorporate these two relics. Miller says a concrete slab was placed just outside the building so that the bell can be featured proudly for any passerby to see.

The pane of stained glass will also be visible to any outsider walking by. Miller says it will be the focal point of their east side entrance. Both pieces were restored by local professionals, who offered their services for free.

"We have had so many people who have reached out to us," Miller says. "We have just seen so many good things that have happened over the course of the past year."

For every shortcoming, Miller says an act of generosity has filled the void. When church leaders discovered their insurance coverage wouldn't be able to cover a new building, several in the community stepped in to help, without ever being asked to.

"Individuals and business owners from the community would walk up and hand us checks and say here, this is to help you rebuild," Miller says.

Besides the monetary donations, Miller says countless churches in the area also offered a space to worship. Members spent the first four Sundays at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church until they heard the old U.S. Post Office building was open for rent.

Members say they should only have to use that building for another month or two. The latest estimates show their new building should be finished by the end of the year.

"We've been told we'll be in before Christmas," Miller says. "That's our goal, is to be in before Christmas."

A fitting debut that reminds Miller of how fortunate he and his parishioners are to have a home for the holidays, a new facility where they can form a history all their own.

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