A large church in southeast Iowa was gutted in a weekend fire. The Oskaloosa Fire Department was called to the scene of a fire at the First Church of the Nazarene on Saturday night. More than 40 firefighters from five agencies fought the fire until early Sunday morning.

Members of the church met Sunday in a town auditorium and remembered what the structure meant to them. Various church members offered comments like: “I guess my life dwells around my church and my church family.” “I was crying. I grew up in that church since I was a little girl.” “I’ve been in the church over 50 years.” “My daughter just got married in October. I think it was probably the last wedding in the church.”

Firefighters say the building is a total loss, estimated in the millions, but the church’s interim pastor Dave Childers says it’s more than that. Childers says “It’s a blessing in disguise. It will only help us move on to a whole new arena of ministry in the days and years to come.”

Another church member, Jodi Light, says the church is lost but their spirit is very much intact. Light says “We have the comfort of God through everything. We can’t do anything on your own. Our church is more than a building.” Other members say they are the true church and anything destroyed, their faith can rebuild. Investigators say it appears an electrical short in the furnace room may have caused the fire, though the investigation is still underway.