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Erik Burgess, Published September 29 2012

Mold forces Fargo congregation to find new church

FARGO – After leaving her church because of a worsening mold problem, one area pastor said she and her congregation consider the move somewhat of a blessing.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to take a deep breath ... a mold-free breath,” said Pastor Anne Dilenschneider, laughing. “A good, healthy breath and we’ll see where we’re called next.”

Dilenschneider’s north Fargo Edgewood United Methodist Church has had a mold problem the past two years, brought on by flooding in the area.

The recent dry spell actually made it worse, she said, as the spores dried and flaked off into the building’s heating system.

This fall, after receiving complaints of runny noses and scratchy throats, the church voted to leave the building. But the congregation has found sanctuary.

Richard Zeck, senior pastor at First United Methodist downtown, offered their chapel space to Dilenschneider’s 120-person congregation for the time being.

“I think it’s bringing a little sense of community back to them since they’re worrying about their building so much,” Zeck said. “We’re glad to have ’em. They’re a good group.”

Since the move a couple of weeks ago, the two churches have fused many of their offerings, including confirmation courses and Sunday school.

“The timing of the move really had to do with the children,” Dilenschneider said. “We want them to be in Sunday school rooms that are safe.”

Other Methodist churches in the area also offered help, Dilenschneider said, but scheduling and space worked out best at First United.

“No church stands alone. We all stand together and support each other,” she said. “That’s always been the strength of the Methodists.”

While analysts study Edgewood’s air quality to determine how serious the problem is, Dilenschneider said they have the opportunity to think about how they want to serve the community, make changes to their current building or move to a new area entirely.

“We are a bit in the wilderness, but we will find our promised land eventually,” she said.

Dilenschneider said the church is not closed but only has temporarily moved. She said attendance has remained steady, and the church’s annual bake sale still will be held on the north end of Faith United Methodist sometime this fall.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518