From the Worldwide Faith News archives

United Methodist churches among those cited as needing repair

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Wed, 19 Dec 2001 15:07:20 -0600

Dec. 19, 2001 News media contact: Thomas S.
McAnally7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn.     10-71B{587}

By United Methodist News Service

Three United Methodist churches are among  "Ten Sacred Places to Save"
announced Dec. 17 by a national organization dedicated to the sound
stewardship and active community use of America's historic religious

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., a proponent of faith-based social services,
made the announcement on behalf of "Partners for Sacred Places" in New
Haven, Conn.

The three United Methodist churches on the list are Cass Community United
Methodist Church in Detroit, St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church
in New York, and Grace United Church (Presbyterian and United Methodist) in
Kansas City, Mo.

Other congregations on the list are Acts of the Apostles Church in Jesus
Christ, Philadelphia; Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue, New York; Crescent
Avenue Presbyterian Church, Plainfield, N.J.; Immanuel Presbyterian Church,
Los Angeles; Omega Seventh-day Adventist Church, New Haven, Conn.; Pilgrim
Baptist Church, Chicago; and St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church,
Galveston, Texas.

Partners cited Trinity United Methodist Church in Providence, R.I., as a
"model congregation" for progress in sustaining its historic building while
serving its community. Epworth United Methodist Church in Denver is on the
organization's "watch list."  

The "Ten to Save" is a list of older houses of worship that open their doors
to the community and have major capital repair needs beyond their
congregations' means. Community service programs sponsored by Ten to Save
congregations include food pantries, day care centers, homeless shelters,
theater companies, a community orchestra and programs for disadvantaged
youth. Ten to Save buildings need repairs to leaking roofs, unstable towers
and deteriorated masonry, with estimated costs ranging from $200,000 to $4

"The common denominator among these four (United Methodist) congregations is
that each has a dynamic, visionary leader helping them make significant
change in their struggling communities," said Kalyani Broderick Glass,
director of communications for Partners.

Glass told United Methodist News Service that the selection committee was
especially impressed with the continuing commitment of United Methodist
congregations to addressing entrenched urban social problems. "The United
Methodist leadership is to be commended," she said.

For each house of worship on the list, Partners released information on its
architectural and historical significance, building condition, repair costs
and community outreach.

For Cass Community Church in Detroit, the Partners document says,"Tiffany
windows shine in Michigan's poorest neighborhood." The 1883 chapel was
designed by Mason and Rice, who were responsible for other landmark Detroit
buildings. It includes unusual art nouveau floral and ornamental Tiffany
windows and an 1892 Johnson tracker pipe organ, the largest 19th-century
organ in Michigan and one of only three Johnson trackers from that period
remaining in the United States. The building has a deteriorating roof and a
damaged foundation due to decades of water saturation. It needs $750,000 to
$1 million, plus at least $150,000 to restore each Tiffany window.   

According to Partners, the church serves the poorest ZIP code in Michigan,
providing a homeless drop-in center, a warming center for homeless women and
children, a free weekly medical clinic, Alcoholics Anonymous groups, and
4,500 meals a week in winter.  

The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in New York has moved from "demolition
to preservation," according to Partners. In addition to the United Methodist
congregation, the 1897 French neo-classical building provides space for a
Jewish congregation, an Ethiopian Evangelical Church, and Iglesia Christo
Vivo, a predominantly gay and lesbian Latino congregation. For many years,
the church opposed designation as a city landmark. The church challenged the
landmark status to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. The
building has a leaking roof and massive failure of its exterior terra cotta,
caused by decades of deferred maintenance. Immediate repairs will cost at
least $350,000, and total repair costs could be several million dollars.

Among its many outreach ministries, St. Paul and St. Andrew houses West Side
Coalition Against Hunger, the largest food pantry in New York City,
providing food for 2,000 meals a day, 500,000 meals a year. It also hosts
the Mainstream Nutrition and Health Center, which serves 100 meals a day to
seniors at the church, and delivers 450 meals a day to homebound seniors.
In 2000, the program served 203,000 meals. The congregation has also been
actively responding to needs following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Grace United Church is making a difference in a multicultural neighborhood
in Kansas City, according to Partners. The 1907 native stone structure has a
leaking roof caused by water damage to the interior. Repair to the roof and
windows will cost $200,000. The church serves 2,500 people a month in a
low-income area with many immigrants. Its many services include a food
pantry, job and referral program, emergency utility and rent assistance,
computer and English-as-a-second-language classes and a translation service.
It also sponsors a Peace Making Academy, which teaches children alternatives
to violence, and Tomorrow's Leaders and Community, which provides
adolescents with job training, peer mentoring and communications skills.  

Trinity United Methodist Church in Providence, R.I., is cited as a model
congregation. In 1995, the Providence Preservation Society named Trinity,
the National Register-listed birthplace of Trinity Square Repertory Theater,
to its "Ten Most Endangered " list. The 1917 Gothic revival theater building
had been closed for three years since water pipes froze and burst, causing
flood damage. In 1998, the Rev. Anne Grant was appointed to lead the
multi-ethnic congregation. Within two years, the building was reopened for
community use.

Partners officials said Trinity is "an example of the great difference a
strong leader can make and a national model for how congregations can care
for their historic sacred places."

Regarding its Watch List, Partners said community-serving activities might
be in jeopardy if Epworth United Methodist Church in Denver does not address
foundation leaks and deteriorating masonry in the next few years. The
English Gothic revival building, built in 1908, serves one of Denver's
poorest communities.

"In our nation's time of need, and in the midst of this very holy season, it
should be clearer than ever what our churches, synagogues, mosques and
temples mean to our communities," Lieberman said. "They are much more than
houses of worship. They are anchoring centers of community service and moral
# # #

United Methodist News Service
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