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Church falling apart

Maria Bradshaw

Church falling apart

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EVERY?SUNDAY a few?devoted parishioners of St Joseph Parish Church have been faithfully worshipping there, seemingly oblivious to the huge cracks in the walls and the yellow caution tape tied around the line of benches to one side of the church, warning “police line do not cross”.
Even though the perilous situation did not deter the God fearing group, a few members of the congregation had already deserted the historic church, several months ago, amidst fears that the “church was falling down”.
Last Sunday the diocese at the Anglican church finally made a decision to close the doors of the 172- year-old St Joseph Parish church until engineers submit a report of a geological study which was conducted on the church, as a result of the severe structural damage which it sustained over the past few years.
When contacted, Archdeacon Eric Lynch told the MIDWEEK?NATION?that the church was officially closed last Sunday until further notice and that members of the congregation were informed that they could worship at St Aidan Anglican Church in Bathsheba, St Joseph.
Lynch said the trustees would await the outcome of the study before making a final decision about the church’s future.
The decision from the diocese of the Anglican church to finally close the historic church comes at a time when some upset church members were beginning to question why the church remained opened for so long while in such a dangerous state.
One man lamented that the church “has been condemned”?and accused Rev. Errington Massiah, the rector, of refusing to close the church even though “it is falling down”.
But in response to these criticisms, Rev. Massiah stated that it was not his call.
“It is not my church. I can’t make that decision on my own. The church is vested in the trustees who are responsible for church buildings,” he said, as he confirmed that worshipping will now take place at St Aidan’s.
He did admit, however, that a few members of the congregation had left the church, and pointed out that Sunday school teaching for children was being held at the rectory.
The 172-year-old church began to show cracks a few years ago due to land slippage and it sustained more structural damage when earth tremors affected the island in 2007. The situation worsened last October when Tropical Storm Tomas struck the island.
Huge cracks now run along the walls both inside and outside the church while a section of the floor has partially collapsed, forcing church officials to cordon off half of the church, using yellow police caution tape. Broken benches and windows also render ugly what was once a majestic-looking church.
Back in 2007, Rev. Massiah had told this newspaper during an interview that the church would have to be rebuilt and that a rebuilding fund had been established.