Emmaus Mennonite Church, about 40 miles NE of Wichita, burned to the ground last night. It was an old building, basically a tinder box that had no chance of being saved once fire started. Praise God no one was hurt. News story/video here.
My wife grew up near Whitewater, Kansas, in a little town named Elbing. She was raised attending Emmaus Church in rural Whitewater (in the middle of no where to us city folk). Emmaus is a farming community church, a sizable one as farmers come from all around to attend. Her parents met, courted, and were married there. So did her grandparents on her father's side. Her Grandfather on her mother's side was the pastor there before she was born. All of Shari's youthful memories relate to her activity at that church. We got married at Emmaus in 1993. I'll never forget my Buffalo-winter worn father looking out the window of the church and commenting on the miles and miles of unharvested, golden wheat as the heat waves from the 110 degree day rippled up off the parking lot. There is a cemetery adjacent to the building, many of Shari's relatives are buried there. Shari's parents are still active members at Emmaus. Now, the building-which is so representative of the community it hosted- is gone. It only took a few hours.
Emmaus, as a congregation, is 125 years old. The current building was built 79 years ago.
Pray for Emmaus Mennonite Church in Whitewater. I am confident God is using this severe trial for His glory and the edification of His people, but sifting through the ashes is still hard.