|Ada First UMC|
|Photo by Anna Guillozet|
|Memories of a community member|
Responses to the fire on my Facebook news feed were urgent and emotional. I was also feeling emotional watching it all unfold on social media. There were comments and memories from fellow congregants, which I expected - but what struck me was the attachment that other members of the community had to the church building, even if they did not regularly attend services. This structure, dedicated in 1899, was definitely an important part of Ada's built heritage.
|Community Blanket featuring Ada First|
Built heritage is defined as the unique and irreplaceable architecture with historic background that merits preservation for future generations. In small towns especially, it is an important part of the residents' sense of space. In a village the size of Ada - about 5,800 people - nearly everyone has a connection with a church building like Ada FUMC. It sat on a prominent corner of Main Street. Numerous community organizations used the basement: Head Start, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Kiwanis, Red Cross, and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. This is a case where not only is the church an significant part of the community identity and heritage, but the structure itself as well. This experience has quite literally brought home the importance of preserving our built heritage.
My 6th grade Sunday School Class
I’m the second from the left
On a more personal note, I would like to stress that as devastating a loss this is to the architectural heritage of Ada, the damage was only to the structure and thank God no one was hurt. As the song goes, "the church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people."
For more information on the history of Ada First United Methodist Church - congregation and building - see Celebrating a Century: Reflections of Faith 1899-1999.