Less than a year after fire, church in its new home

Less than a year after fire, church in its new home

CHAMPAIGN — After a fire last year in the church they rented, the Midwest Believers Church found room at the inn.

It was the Holiday Inn in Urbana, where they spent four months. But on Aug. 5, a new church was dedicated in Champaign.

Volunteers, led by a pastor's stepfather, have converted the former space of Publication Services, 1802 S. Duncan Road. Before Publication Services, the building was a Moose Lodge.

Pastors Trent and Rhonda Cloin say the church has wanted a permanent home for a long time, and fundraising was long under way.

That was even before the Nov. 27, 2011, fire at Urbana First Baptist and Midwest Believers Church, 3311 S. Philo Road.

Firefighters at the time said the blaze appeared to be intentionally set. Damage was about $30,000, and Trent Cloin said there was talk about problems with the electrical system.

The congregation bought the empty Champaign building in March.

Midwest Believers, founded in 2007, is a nondenominational church, a member of Rhema Ministerial Association International. Their website is midwestbelieverschurch.org.

MBC also stands for Making Disciples, Building Strong Families and Caring For People, the pastors said.

Trent Cloin said it was a long wait to find the perfect home.

The work they've done recently to renovate the old Moose Lodge auditorium was a group effort. The congregation "rallied together," Rhonda Cloin said.

"Even in the midst of a difficult situation, the congregation of MBC stayed very positive," she said.

Trent Cloin said a lot of the work and supervising was done by his father-in-law, Marty Thomason of Paris.

"I do home repair for people. Rhonda is my wife's daughter," Thomason said. "This work has been a challenge and a learning experience. Champaign has more building codes than Paris."

The first service in the unfinished building was in March, Rhonda Cloin said.

Volunteers worked around the parishioners.

Thomason, a retired engineer, said 4 1/2 months of work went very fast, even with all-volunteer help.

"We made good progress, probably not as fast as contractors would have," Thomason said.

Trent Cloin grew up in St. Louis and in 1996 married a Parisian. Until 2007, he worked at a church in the Edgar County village.

He described Midwest Believers as "a nondenominational, very family-oriented church, with Bible-based preaching."

The new building is 14,000 square feet, giving the young church plenty of room to grow.

"Everyone has been so supportive and awesome," Rhonda Cloin said. "We had been raising money and looked at the building a couple of years ago, but thought it was out of our range. Then we thought it was sold."

But it became available right when the church needed it.

"The timing of everything was just kind of perfect," she said.

Until the reopening, the Midwest Believers had been meeting in a side room of the Duncan Road site.

"That will be the youth room. The new auditorium is able to hold 250 people," Rhonda Cloin said.

Service times are 10:30 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

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