Members of the Wesley United Methodist Church congregation met last night to discuss the future of their tornado-damaged building located at the corner of 9th and Washington Streets in Trenton.
Church board chairman Larry Bunnell revealed that the members voted to cancel the previously scheduled Sunday meeting with the District Superintendent of the United Methodist Churches. Bunnell explained that this decision was made because the congregation wishes to keep the Wesley church at its current location, thus the district superintendent’s involvement in the decision-making process is not required.
At Wednesday night’s special meeting, a representative from Kramer Contracting in Jamesport was present to outline the new plans. These plans now involve demolishing only the storm-damaged sections, which include the roof and walls of the sanctuary, developing renovation designs, and overseeing the construction process. According to Bunnell, the rebuilt sanctuary is expected to be smaller and will be positioned further back from 9th Street to improve handicapped accessibility with features such as a ramp.
Bunnell reported that there is $1.1 million available from insurance funds for the repairs. He assured that the Wesley congregation will be regularly updated and will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed designs and construction plans.
The church suffered significant damage during the storm on May 6th, with two large holes appearing in the roof. Tarps were used to cover these openings, and a chain-link fence was erected along the sidewalk to ensure public safety. The congregation has been advised against using the building for the time being.
The church’s part-time secretary has relocated to the First Christian Church, where the Wesley congregation is currently holding Sunday morning worship services at 9 a.m.
At a meeting on October 23rd at Trenton City Hall, Bunnell informed the Building and Nuisance board that the church members had initially voted to “move on” from the 130-year-old structure, however, he stressed that this was not a definitive decision. A complete demolition or relocation would have involved the district superintendent and a final congregational vote, but this has now been circumvented. In the days leading up to the recent congregation meeting, several members expressed their need for more information, prompting the gathering.
Bunnell is scheduled to attend the upcoming meeting on November 27th to provide an update on the Wesley church’s plans. Meanwhile, the Trenton Building and Nuisance Board has labeled the church a nuisance due to the structural concerns.