Fire-ravaged Midtown church gathers for community celebration


First Evangelical Lutheran Church hosted an Oktoberfest open house.

An electrical fire in a storage area near the altar damaged the church's sanctuary and some century-old heirlooms.

The church sustained significant smoke and water damage, but their 100-year old organ was spared.

All week, church members have been busy cleaning up, and they say they still have a lot more work left to do.

"The soot and the heat damage are everywhere. Pretty much every square inch of that building is going to have to be replaced or cleaned by professionals, and those ceilings are 30 to 40 feet high," Rev. Evan McClanahan said.

First Evangelical Lutheran Church decided against canceling their Oktoberfest they've been planning for months. It allowed neighbors and the community to gather and show support for the church members.

"It's easy to get real wrapped up in the mountains of work we have ahead of us, but we want to continue to serve our community, and that's what today is really about, is opening our doors, letting people know we're here, and being an important fixture in the community," Amanda McClanahan, the pastor's wife, said.

No one was injured in the fire.

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