Congregation fights to save condemned church

Posted at 7:01 PM, Aug 09, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-09 19:01:24-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – A historic church with a leaning bell tower and sagging roof in Richmond's Church Hill community is facing a new challenge. 

Now the city has condemned the church and it could eventually face a wrecking ball if repairs are not made soon.

Spirit of God Ministries purchased the structure two years ago, but hasn't ever been able to hold services in the aging sanctuary.

"Since the roof needs to be repaired, they have condemned the whole building," said Pastor Jeffrey Lee. "So we're not able to go inside."

With the bell tower leaning and the roof collapsing, the building is on the verge of caving in. That's why city inspectors recently put up notices warning folks to keep out. 

And Lee said the congregation has just days to get a stabilization plan to the city.

The Historic Richmond Foundation believes saving the building will be good for Church Hill.

"Just because the building has the notice on it, it does not mean that it's coming down [or] that it has to come down," said the Historic Richmond Foundation's Kathleen Morgan. "There can be other solutions and the building can stay in place.

Amy Swartz, also with the Historic Richmond Foundation, said restoring the church is important for the Church Hill community. It would also prevent a large, vacant lot, which Swartz said would be sad for the area.

Everyone agrees that the church needs major repairs. Lee said it will cost around $30,000 to fix the structural issues, so folks can go back inside. 

A building fund has been set up at SunTrust bank to try and help the church raise funds for emergency stabilization repairs.