Crumbling church in need of help
By Brian Stanley email@example.com April 24, 2012 5:14PM
Joseph Jones, assistant pastor at Church of the Living God, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, walks past the location where the church's chimney collapsed on a neighboring garage as seen Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Joliet. Inspection has determined the building needs serious repair or replacement which the small congregation cannot afford. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 26, 2012 8:04AM
JOLIET — A 119-year-old church is falling apart and must be repaired or replaced soon — which is beyond the financial means of the small congregation that uses it.
Since 1973, The Church of the Living God, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, usually shortened to The Church of the Living God, has met at 353 E. Jackson St. The four-story brick building was built in 1893 as a house of worship for another faith.
Assistant Pastor Joseph Jones and his daughter Tracy Valley remember The Church of the Living God had nearly 100 members in the 1970s and 1980s. It now has an active congregation of 25 adults and children.
Last week, strong winds blew a chimney on the north end of the building onto the corner of a detached garage next door. Citing “concern with the roof and condition of the walls,” City Building Inspector Dave Mackey posted an orange tag on the building — prohibiting it from being occupied.
“We’d like them to move on this as quickly as possible (since) some of the right-of-way is blocked,” Mackey said.
Steel barriers lined with yellow tape block the sidewalks of Jackson and Herkimer streets in front of the church and the alley between Herkimer and Collins.
Sarai Flores, who has lived next door for three years, said nothing had fallen off the church before. But her Ford Expedition remained blocked inside the damaged garage (on the other side from where the bricks struck the roof).
“I have another car I’m using, and the landlord has been in contact with the city about when I can get it out,” Flores said.
Jones said an assessor estimated the cost of making the necessary repairs at $250,000, and church bylaws require any decision to be made by its Chicago region board of trustees, which will next meet in July. Jones said the regional overseer could decide what to do in the meantime but only as a last resort.
Church activities, which consist of Bible study, Sunday school and services, on Wednesday nights, Friday nights and Sundays, were canceled last week. Jones said the small congregation plans to meet at a member’s house or local school until the decision is made about the building.
“I hope someone sees our need and offers help,” Jones said. “We don’t have the membership or the local financing to do this ourselves.”