Paradise Celebrates Commercial Rebuild: Our Saviour Lutheran Church

On May 16, exactly one year, six months, and eight days after the Camp Fire, Paradise broke ground on its first stick built commercial rebuild. And what more “Paradise” a construction than a building designed to serve the community it calls home.

Our Savior Lutheran Church, first built in 1965, returns to its original location at the intersection of Pentz and Bille.

“I think it’s more than appropriate that the first [stick built] building up would be a church,” Pastor Brandon Merrick said. “It’s a safe gathering place of people to come together to move forward. We’re here to serve people.”

The church property, which sits on almost six acres, was once home to a thriving preschool, and the members look forward to learning more about how they can help the community going forward. “We want it to be integral to Paradise as it rebuilds,” Merrick said, “and that’s why we wanted to start building now and not wait.”

While the church will be a bit smaller than the original mid-century build, Merrick is confident it will be the perfect size for the needs of the community. “The biggest challenge,” he said, “was making sure we had the right people to work with.” The congregation was fortunate to have a construction project manager in their midst, but they took their time to ensure the right architect and construction team for the rebuild.

“Be sure you’re organized and ready to go—not just with your cheapest options but the best ones.” He recommends looking for contractors and architects with really good communication skills and excellent reputations.  

Merrick moved to Paradise in 2014 with his wife and three children to serve as pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church. “We absolutely loved Paradise when we came,” he said. “You could walk around town and see people and say ‘hi’ in the store or bank. It’s wonderful to have that connection with everyone in all different areas.” Today, his love for the community has grown even stronger after the fire: “I’m here with the people, and this is our town and our church.”

Considering life on the Ridge? Above all, Merrick says relationships are key. “Be connected. Talk with people. Make those connections because it’s not easy for business in Paradise right now. People living on the Ridge will need to patronize the businesses there in order to keep them in business—and vice versa. As long as we can be together—that is what will define what Paradise becomes.” 

And together, the church members celebrated last month’s groundbreaking with a theme of thankfulness.

“Really, our church is a billboard for all those people who have helped us around the country. We have received so much help we were able to pass on to other people. Paradise is now a testament to the goodness of other people.”

Paradise also welcomed back High Angle Driveline who had the honor of being the first commercial prefab structure and received its Certificate of Occupancy, on May 6th.

Make it Paradise Newsletter

This newsletter is designed to keep you informed of the ongoing recovery efforts as we rebuild Paradise.  Each week you will receive a newsletter with events, current numbers (building permits, etc.), current topics and a weekly Q&A.

Occasionally, we may send out an extra newsletter pertaining to an upcoming event or important information.