Worshippers return to church sanctuary

After 10 months and $500,000 in repairs, Trinity church hosts a rededication service.

After 10 months and $500,000 in repairs, Trinity church hosts a rededication service.

June 03, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Ten months after the ceiling at Trinity United Church of Christ in Waynesboro collapsed with a roar into the sanctuary, worshipers returned Sunday afternoon for a rededication service.

"It took longer to get back in here than to clean up at the World Trade Center. It was a big deal for us," said the Rev. James Williams, who with his wife, Linda, is pastor of the church at 30 W. North St.

Since the church ceiling crashed down on the empty sanctuary less than an hour after the church organist left the building on July 31, church members and contractors moved ahead with the grueling task of putting the church back together.


The 1,200 pipes in the Moller organ had to be taken out and cleaned, new carpeting had to be installed and the pews, altar, pulpit and lectern had to be redone.

Williams thanked everyone who had a hand in rebuilding during Sunday's worship service, which was attended by about 150 people, including former church pastors and other local pastors.

The new white ceiling and freshly painted walls sparkled, and the refinished pews gleamed.

The scene was much different last summer when the ceiling collapsed in one piece - a pendulum-like swath of heavy plaster held together by metal lathes. It swept the sanctuary from front to back, ending up in a three-ton pile of debris in the rear of the sanctuary.

Powdery brown, blown-in insulation coupled with the dust of tons of pulverized plaster created a black cloud that hung in the sanctuary for weeks afterward.

"What happened to this building last July was truly a death for us. Today we are witness to a resurrection," said the Rev. H. Clayton Moyer Jr., pastor emeritus.

Engineers who inspected the rubble were never able to find out what caused the ceiling to collapse.

The repairs cost about $500,000 and were covered by insurance, Williams has said.

Until this weekend, services were held in a basement meeting room. But that was only a minor inconvenience when considering the possibility of what could have happened had the ceiling collapsed during a Sunday service.

Trinity United Church of Christ dedicated the original building in 1871. Through the years, the building was remodeled to accommodate the needs of a growing and changing congregation.

At first, the sanctuary was on the second floor, but that was removed in a major renovation in 1950. The building was converted to a single-story room with high-ceilings, Williams said. The ceiling that collapsed was part of that renovation, he said.

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