SYCAMORE – The “light on the hill” shone brightly for the first time in nine months Sunday.
Mayfield Congregational Church members worshiped at their church on 28405 Church Road on Sunday for the first time since the interior ceiling collapsed in March. It was a welcome sight to Wilma Miranda, who said she was unsure if the congregation would come back to the 150-year-old building after she saw the plaster, insulation, dust and other debris covering nearly everything in the sanctuary after the ceiling fell.
“We thought the church might not ever be rebuilt, but it turns out the building is as sound today as the day it was built,” she said. “It’s our church again and she sure does look pretty to us. We did it.”
One of the main drivers in the rebuilding process was longtime member Joan Berger, who coordinated work with insurance agencies, contractors and interior designers throughout the process. Berger said insurance covered nearly the full cost of repairs and local workers such as interior designer Jane Kielb were instrumental in restoring the church.
Berger said local volunteers even helped make some of the new features of the church, such as the main cross in the sanctuary and new offering plates – both of which were made from the unusable wooden beams of the original structure.
“It was a very rewarding process,” she said of her role in the rebuilding process. “This building is our home and is precious to us.”
Members also took time to reflect on the generosity and hospitality of First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeKalb, which allowed the Mayfield congregation to use the chapel next to its main sanctuary as its own church.
Phyllis Roush, a Mayfield member for more than 25 years, said the DeKalb congregation became a second family to members, as they would often gather for fellowship before and after their respective services.
“We were so blessed to have them as our home away from home,” Roush said. “It was our own little heaven.”
The Mayfield congregation’s homecoming Sunday was never in doubt to interim pastor Bill Nagy, who said the members have created one of the most special churches he has ever seen.
Nagy, who titled his Sunday sermon “The Temple Restored,” said the members pulled together and never lost faith during the process, displaying the “Mayfield ethos.” And while he is glad to be back in the building, he said the true church would exist under any roof.
“There is a special spirit here these people have, and it’s not the building itself. The building only houses that spirit,” Nagy said. “I felt that too when I started here two years ago. I always tell my colleagues Mayfield Church is the best kept secret in northern Illinois.”
It is a secret Dawn Carlson was glad to have discovered after experiencing different churches throughout her life. Carlson, who became one of the roughly 105 members six years ago with her family, said the church’s acceptance, open-mindedness and loving nature is what she wanted her young children to grow up in.
Overcoming the adversity and challenges of rebuilding the church only strengthened the bond among members, she said.
“We are a family here,” she said. “I consider [members] my kids’ aunts, uncles and grandparents.”