Cedar Grove back in sanctuary

Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nearly four years have passed since the roof of Cedar Grove Methodist-Protestant Church collapsed on June 22, 2006. But on Sunday, the church held a dedication service for its newly repaired sanctuary.

Since 2007, the congregation had worshipped in the fellowship hall, which sustained little damage from the collapse. They finally moved back into the sanctuary in early February.

“We made it through the storm, I guess you’d say,” said Bro. Jeff Carroll, the church’s pastor.

In the summer of 2006, it looked like a storm had ripped the 80- by 90-foot sanctuary in half. The brand new building had only been used a little over a month. Fortunately, no one was inside at the time of the collapse.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office had cited the lack of architectural design in the church’s construction as a violation of Alabama law. Authorities also said the lack of commercial building expertise was likely a contributing factor in the collapse.

Carroll, a licensed homebuilder, told The Advertiser in 2006 that congregation members built the church based on plans drafted from Internet photos. He also contended that the separation of church and state should apply to state intervention into church construction.

Ultimately, no charges were brought against the pastor. The church consulted a Birmingham-based architect to design the new steel-framed roof, which began in 2007.

One of the biggest delays in construction was the repair of the building’s interior.

Debris from the roof had crashed down onto the center row of pews in the sanctuary, destroying half of the church’s 44 pews.

A fundraising effort was organized to dedicate the new pews in the memory of loved ones for anyone who would purchase one.

The cost of treating the building for mold and mildew alone was about $30,000, Carroll estimated.

The sound system and other equipment had to be repaired. Despite donations exceeding $200,000, there was still not enough money to cover all the repairs.

The church finally reached a settlement with ALFA slightly over a year ago, and interior repairs began in 2009.

“We got enough out of the settlement to fix the interior,” Carroll said.

The total cost of repairs came to between $350,000 and $400,000, not including regular monthly bills.

Carroll said Sunday’s dedication service was Cedar Grove’s way of thanking all the churches, organizations and individuals that contributed money, time and effort to the repairs.

“We had a full house,” he said. “We had singing and celebration, and we prayed a prayer of dedication. It was a time to say ‘thank you.’”

Carroll said he couldn’t name all the churches and individuals who helped out because there were so many.

“We live in a community of people that care about one another and try to help one another,” he continued. “That’s something I don’t think a lot of people realize we still have here in Chilton County.”