Church Rebuilding

Alayna Jones , Editor

In April of 2021, a church building located on Ottley avenue burnt down from an act of arson. Many were devastated at the loss of this building, not only because of the importance it had to the members of the church, but also people in the community who benefited from this building. In a stake-wide conference for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints held on October 30th, the church announced the reconstruction of this building, which shocked members across the valley.
This fire impacted many in the area. Adie Skeen, a member who lives very close to the late church building, remembers the day the building burnt down. “There was a lot of smoke and I knew something was up. Once we drove by on my way to school, I saw the building ablaze. There were firefighters trying tirelessly to quench the flames while I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
Bella Bennett feels the same way, and also shared a shocking anecdote concerning the church’s history. Bennett is a student who attended the church regularly for eight years. “This building also burnt down in the 80s. This fire didn’t completely destroy the building, but it did damage it. One of the only pictures that survived was a painting of Jesus Christ, which also survived this fire.”
This fire impacted so many, and not just the members of the church were saddened by its destruction. The Fruita City council even stated so in their letter asking for reconsideration to rebuild the church:“The building has been a great asset to the community since the 1960s.”
Members of the community were also devastated at the loss of this historic building in the valley. Because of the impact this tragedy caused, there was a solution well underway thanks to the Fruita City Council.
After the fire destroyed the building, the church organization decided against rebuilding (for unknown reasons). But, in April of this year the Fruita City Council decided to write a letter to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, asking them to reconsider reconstruction. This letter stated (which was displayed on the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel) “Many of our local citizens, whether part of the membership of the church or not, have benefitted and been impacted in a positive way from the use of the building.”
There were two opposing votes against rebuilding, specifically on the grounds of the unnecessary involvement with the religion’s affairs. One such vote came from Fruita City Council member, Karen Leonhart, who stated. “I just have an issue with the church piece of it. And you know, we seem to be pretty critical of letters of support and I don’t like that…”
One of the city council members who voted in favor of the letter, Ken Kreie, stated to the GJSentinel, “I feel like it’s different than us advocating for a religion or something. We just would like our people to be able to continue their lives worshiping [and] doing things that they like to do.”
The conflict of whether or not this act was in favor or religiosity, was highly considered of those who opposed the letter, but overall it was decided that because the building impacted the community positively in general, and it was passed.
Construction dates are still to be determined, but the community can rest easy, knowing one of their historic and beloved buildings is returning.