- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2016

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - A church in the southwest Alaska village of Nunapitchuk, where half the population is part of the congregation, has resumed services weeks after the building toppled off its pilings and collapsed.

The village is allowing the Nunapitchuk Moravian Church to use a community building at no cost until it raises the money to rebuild, KYUK-AM reported (https://bit.ly/2bmBrsc).

Church Treasurer Eli Wassillee said the town has raised more than 10 percent of the $200,000 needed for a new church since the structure crashed to the ground in mid-July.

James Berlin, a lay pastor in the church and the town’s mayor, said he was at his home preparing his reading for that Sunday’s services when the building collapsed and “made a big sound.”

“I couldn’t believe that it’d happened,” Berlin said. “It was all the way down when we checked it.”

The church was built in the 1970s, and the village had leveled the building three years ago.

Wassillee said the church was able to salvage a few items, which have been moved to the new space.

“Chairs, pews, the sermon thing, the organ, piano - they were all taken out, including the rug,” Wassillee said.

Nunapitchuk, a town of 600 people, is about 22 miles northwest of Bethel.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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