Logans Ferry Presbyterian Church tackles major renovation
The congregation at Logans Ferry Presbyterian Church was oblivious to three decades' worth of rainfall that had seeped into the New Kensington sanctuary's trusses and rotted its interior structure.
But parishioners became immediately aware last spring when the building's west wall warped more than 2 inches in less than a day of heavy rains.
“The wall was waving in the wind,” said Lois Bakewell, a church repair and restoration committee member. “The truss at that end had rotted and collapsed, so the ceiling and the wall were no longer connected.”
The leaks sprang from what church officials say was an improper roof installation done more than 30 years ago.
It has prompted a $333,000 renovation, according to Massaro Corp. superintendent Dave Satler. The Pittsburgh-based general contractor was commissioned last year by Logans Ferry for the complete restoration.
Aside from replacing the shingle roof and stabilizing the trusses with reinforced steel, Massaro is refurbishing the church's lighting, repainting and patching the walls, staining the ceiling and rewiring the lighting in the church's sanctuary.
“The wiring is so old and I don't think it would have passed code,” Bakewell said. “Whenever I heard the fire whistle in town, I used to pray that it wasn't the church burning down.
“The leaks from the roof didn't help, either.”
According to Satler, the ceramic tile roof that was in place was structurally unsound, allowed leaks and created a situation in which total building collapse was “very possible.” The Massaro superintendent said the full roof replacement consumes the majority of the $333,000 budget.
It's fallen to the church's 125-member congregation to foot the bill, Bakewell said.
“It's a lot of money, and the work and time put into fundraising has taken a toll,” she said. “But we're not giving up on it. It's something that's important to all of us.”
The church's fundraisers this year included food drives, raffles, dinners, T-shirt sales and car washes.
Despite the sustained efforts, the congregation fell short of its goal and was forced to mortgage the church building for $177,000, according to Tom Ferguson, head of property and grounds at the 133-year-old church.
“We raised as much as we could,” he said. “We tested as many avenues as possible to receive grants and donations. But ultimately, we had to borrow the money and hope that future fundraisers are successful enough for us to pay off the bills.”
The group's next planned fundraiser is an Aug. 17 car wash at the AutoZone on Tarentum Bridge Road in New Kensington.
For the Rev. Robert Henry, who has led the Logans Ferry congregation for 11 years, it's “inspiring to know there's such a strong sense of unity and support for the church within its members.”
During the sanctuary renovation, the pastor's been conducting worship services in the building's fellowship hall, situated in the church's half that faces the parking lot along Second Street. The attached sanctuary faces in the opposite direction, toward Church Street.
It's the third time Henry's been forced to preach in the hall to a cramped crowd of parishioners in folding chairs. The sanctuary's been renovated twice before during his tenure, though never as extensively.
The pastor considers the current restoration work to be the first phase of a total renovation that will make each entrance and the below-ground dining hall wheelchair-accessible.
With three-quarters of the congregation of retirement age, Henry said the construction plans were made out of necessity and will begin once the church raises sufficient money.
Logans Ferry provides an annual $265,000 worth of services to the public through almost a dozen community outreach programs, according to Henry. The pastor said the building's upkeep is imperative in continuing to perform the philanthropic work in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
“It's the people, not the building, that make the church,” he said. “But we still need somewhere to gather and operate out of.”
Church committee members anticipate the renovation to conclude by Labor Day or shortly after.
The New Kensington parish will host a re-dedication ceremony in the sanctuary on Sept. 29 to celebrate the end of a laborious, but necessary, process.
The ceremony will feature a worship service, followed by a meal in the dining hall.
“It's hard to even describe the privilege,” Henry said. “As a pastor, you're blessed to have a dedication ceremony. To have two is something that's pretty special.”
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lower Burrell 5th-grader illustrates power of kindness with cancer charity
- Second teen charged in Jan. 1 Tarentum shooting
- Arnold woman severely injured in Allegheny Township wreck
- Woman killed in Washington Township crash
- Riverview might ask to raise taxes above 2.3% limit
- Harrison officials discuss grant applications for sidewalks, sewers
- Weather postpones Route 56 closure in New Kensington
- ATI steam explosion in Harrison rocked homes in four counties
- Lower Burrell man charged with stealing copper from Brestensky’s closed meat-packing plant
- Harrison man retiring to end 20-year NFL officiating career
- Apollo officials interested in finding permanent home