A new roof for New Life Faith Center
— The Rev. Larry Johnson, senior pastor of New Life Faith Center on Jacob Tome Highway, sits in the church parking lot every day and watches.
“This is exciting. I just can’t believe it,” he said Thursday. “They work so fast.”
Last Monday a crew hired by S.E. Smoker in Strasburg, Pa. began to remove the sagging roof, including the trusses. Thursday morning the trusses were in and 5/8-inch plywood sheeting was going into place.
Another crew was covering that with a moisture barrier.
“We have 120 days on the contract,” Johnson said. “But the way they’re working, I’d like to be in by Christmas.”
The congregation has been meeting since March in facilities donated to them by Pleasant View Baptist Church. An engineering firm — Mincin Patel Milano in Baltimore — studied the 33-year-old building after cracks appeared in the walls. A letter to the church revealed that little was holding the decaying trusses in place.
“Within the original portion of the building ... we observed that basically each existing scissor truss was damaged,” the letter read. “This condition represents partial structural failure and adversely affects the structural integrity of the building.”
Worse yet, the insurance policy the church carried to protect the building was useless. Johnson said it would not pay any money toward the repairs. Now facing a $271,000 bill, the congregation is fundraising.
“We raised almost $3,600 at our ‘Raise the Roof’ fundraiser,” the pastor said. For that event, five bands played under the pavilion of the American Legion in Havre de Grace.
“The Legion let us use their pavilion for free,” Johnson said, expressing his gratitude for that and the many other displays of support shown to the church so far.
“We’re hoping and praying by the time we get this done we’ll have more money coming in,” he added.
Once the roof is finished, Johnson said the work would shift inside, replacing all the ductwork and utilities. Before the trusses went up, Johnson said, a structural concrete pillar had to be poured to support the roof.
“That added about $5,000 to the project,” Johnson said.
New Life Faith Center could not hold its popular vacation bible school this summer. Johnson said some of his faithful also have not been to church since, choosing not to attend at the alternate site.
He’s been touched by the financial support received not only from the congregation but also from nonmembers and other churches in the community.
“When it’s all said and done, we’re going to have a nice service and invite all the churches and people who helped us,” Johnson said. “We want to give them a meal and thank them.”