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Arson won’t deter North Dakota church

The Dickinson, N.D., Church of Christ’s building was damaged by fire Dec. 2. (Photo via www.thedickinsonpress.com)

The building of the Dickinson Church of Christ — one of the few Churches of Christ in North Dakota — was damaged after a burglar broke into the church and attempted to burn the evidence of his crime, the Dickinson Press reports:

Church of Christ preacher Kenneth Anderson and his wife Dr. Patricia Anderson live next door to the church and as Kenneth was preparing to remove snow he noticed smoke and called 911.
Dickinson resident Joshua Whitworth, 21, was arrested at about noon while entering a north Dickinson strip mall. He was charged with burglary, arson and possession of stolen property, according to the Dickinson Police Department.
“Whitworth entered the building, sometime early in the morning to get out of the cold,” Sgt. Dave Wilkie said. “In the process of burglarizing the place, then he decided to burn the evidence.”

The church will meet in the Anderson’s home until further notice. The fire did not dampen church members’ spirits, the newspaper reports:

“We believe the church is the people,” Patricia Anderson said. “This is just a building. It’s there for our convenience. You’re not going to burn down the people.”
“We’re more like a family and we’ll get through this because the church is our people,” (church member) Sherry Adams said.
As the sun set and curious onlookers drove by, church members surveyed interior damage. A damage estimate has not been determined.
The building smelled of stale bonfire. The ground squished with wet insulation and fire fighting foam.
A young girl sobbed as she absorbed the surroundings.
Many song books, Bibles and chairs were lost. Photographs remained intact on a west wall.
“The most irreplaceable thing in here is that green shag carpet in there from my folks’ house,” church member Scott Olin said with a lighthearted laugh.
Whitworth also apparently drank grape juice out of the church’s fridge, Sherry Adams said.

Read the full story.
Trials are nothing new for members of the Dickinson church.

Dean and Sherry Adams with their children, Steven Adams and Mindy Roy, and their son-in-law, Ian Roy. (Photo provided)

I interviewed Sherry Adams — who attended York College in Nebraska before transferring to Harding University in Arkansas —  and her family in 2008 for a feature story about their life and struggles. Sherry’s husband, Dean, also preaches for the Dickinson church. Their two children, now grown, have hypogammaglobulinemia, a genetic disorder that hampers the body’s ability to fight infection. Though insured, the family owed about $90,000 for two decades of medical treatments.
Jennifer Percell, a Harding classmate of Sherry Adams, decided to help the family. Percell’s son, Nathaniel, launched a website to share the family’s story and list ways to contribute to a medical fund. Chronicle readers have contributed thousands to help the family.
The couple’s son, Steven Adams, had this to say about his parents: “Despite the trials, they have always put their faith in God first. They are always devoted to the service of others, whether it’s me and my sister, another member of the church or a complete stranger.”

  • Feedback
    My husband and I helped build that church building in the late 80s. So sad that the congregation there has to start over.
    Susan Nossaman
    December, 6 2010

    Seen photo of young man looks so lost…could be anyone son, grandson. Has anyone reached out to him? Yes, Thank Lord preacher was outdoors and spotted the smoke….the young man needs counseling an opportunity to see the error of his way…and taught Christ way. Just a thought on prayers & follow-up visit to this soul & his family. Sorry for the lost of Bibles, etc. Sincerely, Mrs.A
    church of Christ Ferndale, California
    December, 7 2010

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