The decision to preserve the old 100 plus year old church building, known as The South New Hope Church, was one of the most difficult decisions the Trustees has had to make. It seemed that there were as many good reasons for removing the building as there was for keeping it. The decision was not taken lightly and did not come quickly. The Trustees wrestled almost a year with the question of demolishing vs. restoring the building. Studies, cost analysis and a lot of discussion took place before a vote could be taken. The decision to restore the building of course was reinforced by the many comments received in support of this action and the many people who have already given financial support to the project.
A detailed evaluation of the church structure was done by an independent individual not associated with the church or the Trustees. This was important so that biases would be taken out of the structure evaluation process, a process that was done prior to the Trustee’s decision to renovate the building. Phase one of the renovation is to correct some of the most serious structural problems: water damage and leakage problems, the rotting bell supports in the bell tower, holes found in some exterior walls, missing bricks, chimney caps and flashings for the two chimneys, replacement of missing siding, decorative wood features on the bell tower, rotten window trim and other items that pertain to the interior structure and exterior surfaces. It is fully realized that a number of renovation phases will be necessary to bring the church building into a condition that will enable it to stand proud for the next 125 years.
A policy that the Trustees have developed is that no renovation phases can be started unless there is full funding in place before beginning any new phase. We think that this is a good procedure to follow, especially during these troubling economic times. As funds become available, additional phases will be undertaken to correct other problems that have been highlighted in the building evaluation study.
HOW WILL THE BUILDING BE USED?As the first phase of our restoration project goes on, the Trustees continue to use the building. Of course there are some limitations on its use but when you review our calendar of events you will notice activities being scheduled in and around the church building throughout the summer. In the future we see activities such as the ones that are run presently but the church will serve as a place for Christian services of baptisms, weddings, funerals, renewal of vows, family reunions, and various other community uses.