- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

DELMONT, S.D. (AP) - Members of Zion Lutheran Church in Delmont celebrated Easter in the town’s community center, but they hope to be able to worship in a new church by Christmas.

The congregation’s century-old church was destroyed by a May 2015 tornado that injured nine people and damaged or destroyed dozens of structures.

The final blueprint for a new church was finalized earlier this month and will be sent to five contractors for bids, head trustee Jim Kaufman told The Daily Republic (https://bit.ly/1RJV2Fh ). He hopes the bidding process will take no longer than three weeks so construction can begin sometime next month.

The decision to rebuild the church was almost unanimous from the first congregational meeting after the tornado, according to Kaufman.

“For me, coming back into town after the tornado, I never ever entertained the thought of not building,” he said, adding that six generations of his family have attended Zion Lutheran.

Although a project cost for rebuilding the church isn’t available, Kaufman is hopeful that insurance money and donations should cover 100 percent of the project.

Delmont Mayor Mae Gunnare believes the decision to rebuild could bring a “positive” effect to the whole town.

“To rebuild in Delmont is great,” she said. “Hopefully our community will start to come back, and that’s part of it. We built the fire station and now the church. That means our community will eventually, hopefully, grow.”

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Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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