Church seeks sup­port — ar­chi­tec­tural and pub­lic — for its sag­ging roof

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Deborah Rose

NEW MIL­FORD — An up­dated re­port has re­assessed the sta­tus of the First Con­gre­ga­tional Church’s meet­ing­house roof, which has been sup­ported by a tem­po­rary steel struc­ture. A new struc­tural beam must be in­serted into the ceil­ing above the tem­po­rary struc­ture.

The church has for sev­eral years been rais­ing funds to re­pair the fail­ing ceil­ing beam, re­store the build­ing’s struc­tural in­tegrity and re­move the tem­po­rary steel sup­ports in­side the his­toric meet­ing­house. The con­gre­ga­tion is seek­ing grants to sup­port the repairs.

“We have a lot of re­newed en­ergy to get this done,” said the Rev. Shan­non Wall, act­ing pas­tor. “The team has pulled to­gether and is de­ter­mined to get this done this year.”

In 2012, as light­bulbs in the chan­de­liers were be­ing changed in the sanc­tu­ary, a dip in the ceil­ing was dis­cov­ered, a re­sult of a sag­ging beam in the at­tic.

The dis­cov­ery forced the clo­sure of the sanc­tu­ary in Oc­to­ber of that year, and a

“We have a lot of re­newed en­ergy to get this done.” The Rev. Shan­non Wall, act­ing pas­tor

struc­tural en­gi­neer was hired to as­sess and make tem­po­rary repairs to sup­port beams un­til funds could be raised to com­pletely re­pair the roof.

The project was ex­pected to cost about $400,000, based on the pro­posed so­lu­tion: jack­ing and re­pair of the truss’ failed com­po­nents.

The lat­est en­gi­neer­ing de­sign, how­ever, calls for a dif­fer­ent in­stal­la­tion ap­proach to avoid ad­di­tional dam­age to the plas­ter ceil­ing, Wall said. The lat­est es­ti­mate was not im­me­di­ately avail­able.

Wall said if the church re­ceives the state grant, work could start as early as the sum­mer.

To date, $405,000 has been do­nated to the roof cam­paign, which is phase one of sev­eral church projects.

“There’s ex­cite­ment build­ing now,” said Bar­bara McGiver, a parish­ioner and cap­i­tal cam­paign com­mit­tee mem­ber. McGiver said of­fi­cials are ap­ply­ing for a $100,000 grant through State His­toric Preser­va­tion Of­fice, as well as seek­ing other grant op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The cur­rent preser­va­tion of the church is one of safety and sta­bil­ity of the truss/trusses that sup­port the roof,” Robert Burkhart, pres­i­dent of the New Mil­ford Trust for His­toric Preser­va­tion, wrote in a let­ter of sup­port for the grant. “We are cur­rently sup­port­ing the needs of the church.”

State Rep. Bill Buck­bee wrote a let­ter in sup­port of the church, call­ing the church an “his­toric sta­ple to our town and it should re­ceive the at­ten­tion it so des­per­ately needs.”

McGiver praised a church fam­ily that launched a fundrais­ing chal­lenge in Jan­uary. If the con­gre­ga­tion can raise

$40,000, the fam­ily will pro­vide match­ing funds.

To date, the church has raised nearly $38,000.

Other fundrais­ers are planned. A craft fair will be held May 11, with funds to ben­e­fit the cam­paign.

In his let­ter of sup­port for the church, the Rev. Jack Gilpin, rec­tor at St. John’s Epis­co­pal Church on the Green, cited the ways the church con­trib­utes to the town, in­clud­ing its work with the New Mil­ford Home­less Shel­ter Coali­tion, its lead­er­ship with the town’s Santa Fund and vol­un­teer ef­forts at Loaves & Fishes Hos­pi­tal­ity House.

“Over the years, we have ap­pre­ci­ated be­ing the bene­fac­tors of the de­voted ef­forts of (the church) with do­na­tions of food, di­a­pers, school sup­plies, cloth­ing and hol­i­day gifts for chil­dren,” said Ivana Butera, di­rec­tor of New Mil­ford So­cial Ser­vices. “By sup­port­ing the First Con­gre­ga­tional Church of New Mil­ford, we sup­port a part­ner­ship of care for those most vul­ner­a­ble in our com­mu­nity.”

Wall said they’ve re­ceived great feed­back for the project, “which re­in­forces how im­por­tant the church and its mis­sion ac­tiv­i­ties are” in the com­mu­nity.

For in­for­ma­tion about fundrais­ing ef­forts, or to make a do­na­tion, call 860354-8232.

Cour­tesy of the First Con­gre­ga­tional Church

The First Con­gre­ga­tional Church in New Mil­ford has been rais­ing funds to re­pair a fail­ing ceil­ing beam, re­store the build­ing’s struc­tural in­tegrity and re­move the tem­po­rary steel sup­ports in­side the meet­ing­house.

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