New Church in Cannon Ball Rises From the Ashes - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

New Church in Cannon Ball Rises From the Ashes

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One day after a young man is sentenced for burning a church down on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, we check in on the new church being built in its place.

19-year-old Phoenix Martinez was sentenced for his charge of arson to serve three years, four months in federal prison--and to pay around 354 thousand dollars in restitution.

Renovations to a new church are still underway, but the old church burning down--may have been a blessing.

In July 2012, the St. James Episcopal church in Cannon Ball was burned to the ground, as many congregation members watched.

Arson was the cause.

"We we know we need to get to forgiveness."

A new church built in its place is still under construction.

Although it had to be built under negative circumstances, the church leader says the new St. James is better than before.

"Right after the fire, people were renewing their commitment to being a member of St. James, they said, you know we've been away for awhile, we've taken it for granted, we're not going to do that anymore, so we've seen a number of people becoming regular at church again, that's been good to see." says Father John Floberg, St. James Episcopal Church.

This church is bigger, newer and unique to its community.

"Other churches are like big chapels, feels like you're in a teepee here." says Eli Two Bears, Ft. Yates, Youth Ministry, Young Life.

"That's where this congregation wanted to go with this, make this building looks like it belongs in Cannon Ball, that it belongs among the Dakota people." says Father Floberg.

A new addition to St. James, a baptismal bowl that was carved by a congregation member, Charles McLaughlin.

"The church burned down and the baptismal bowl was destroyed, my wife says I needed a new bowl." says Charles McLaughlin, sculptor/artist.

The self-taught artist brought rock from Ft. Collins home to make the bowl and give it to the church.

"It's kind of funny, when I start working at it, my hands take over and I just kind go--boom it comes out..." says McLaughlin.

A work of art now placed in a work of art, for all to see.

With the new church nearly finished, and more people in the pews than before, last summer's event may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

"There's always been a confidence among us that all things were going to work together for the good." says Father Floberg.

The old building was valued at 330,000.

The new church cost around one hundred thousand dollars more than that.

To learn more on a national fundraising effort-- you can check out St. James Cannon Ball on facebook.

Church leaders say all of the renovations should be done by late November.

The altar was donated by Father John's old church in Minnesota--after it closed down.

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