Milwaukee Trinity church fire, 4 years later, restoration ongoing

It took hours to destroy and years to build back. Sunday, May 15 marked four years since the 140-year-old Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church went up in flames.

"It was shocking. It was unreal. It was definitely a surreal day," said Jackie Nugent, church member.

Sunday was bittersweet, recalling the devastation from the fire that tore through the church on May 15, 2018.

"I couldn’t believe what was happening," said Nugent. 

It was also a day to celebrate progress in the restoration.

"We are grateful to God for all that he is providing," said Rev. M. Douglas Peters. 

Rev. Peters said the multi-million dollar project isn't done yet.

"We were asking all hands on deck to bring this project together," said Rev. Peters.

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Most recently, new stained-glass windows were put in, but upstairs, there’s still lots of work to do.

"These are the things we are going to have to raise money for, the pews the steeple, cupola, the stained-glass windows, the final woodworking and the big one is the organ," said Rev. Peters.

While progress continues within, Rev. Peters said what's outside church walls is most important.

"Milwaukee desperately needs our Lord's gifts in a time of great suffering and sorrow we are seeing around us," said Rev. Peters. "We know what happened last Friday, and that’s blocks from where this church is. It needs to be restored, and we need to have this beacon of hope going forward in Milwaukee."

Rev. Peters said he knows first-hand that adversity can ignite faith and unity.

"Just kind of brings everyone together and kind of gives purpose," said Nugent.

About two-thirds of the restoration project remains to be completed, costing about $6 million.