Tragedy threatened to destroy this thriving congregation by fire right at the time they were seeking solutions for space problems. On the morning of April 1, 1917, people awoke to the story in the Des Moines Register that Grace Church had been struck by lightning and “wrecked by fire” the night before.
Almost the entire structure and its contents were damaged or destroyed. The roof and stain glass dome was gone. The building and contents was now exposed to the elements.
Due to World War I, materials were scarce and very expensive. As a result, the need for a larger church building was put on hold. It was decided to repair the church for temporary use until a new larger structure could be built. Repairs included removing steeples, gables, and gutters. This left a flat roof line and sanctuary ceiling that remained for 100 years. In all, 108 members of Grace UME would go on to serve in World War I.
The church began meeting at University Christian Church, and in the main auditorium of Drake University during repairs. Insurance paid for the repair, and a $7,000 surplus was left over to go towards building their new home.
An intensive financial campaign was made and $125,000 was pledged to the new building at 37th and Cottage Grove. On December 11, 1927, the third building for Grace UME was dedicated, and the building on 19th and Crocker was left empty as the congregation settled into their new home 3 miles west.