We're going back to church today, which is not as unusual as you might think at Inquirer Central.
Alert Readers will remember last week's column about the church on Primrose Road that burned earlier this year. It has just been sitting there with no apparent progress toward tearing it down. Not only is it an eyesore, but it also could be a danger to curious kids in the neighborhood.
I tried to contact the church's pastor but had no luck. So I spoke with the city's Inspections and Code Department, which said they are intending to present the church as a candidate for demolition to council soon. Problem with that is, the city doesn't move at great speed on such matters. Because of all the legal and bureaucratic hoops involved in the process, Fred Cobb, assistant director of the department, said the earliest it could be torn down would be in about four months.
Well, I got some good news from the Rev. JuanCarlos Diaz, the pastor of Iglesia de Dios Nuevo Pacto. He said the demolition has been delayed for a few very legitimate reasons, but it will take place soon.
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"We haven't been able to demolish the building up to this point because it takes a process for the insurance to give us the money for it," Diaz said. "The demolition is supposed to be in the next three to four weeks, at the max."
Three to four weeks beats the heck out of four months. And not involving taxpayer funds is even better.
"The city has no part of it, as far as paying for the demolition of the building," Diaz said. "That is paid for by the insurance company of the church."
Diaz also said the church has tried to secure the building but it's difficult because of the amount of exterior damage and the expense.
"We're not a big church by any means," he said. "It's too difficult financially for us to put up a full fence around the whole property. We don't have the financial means to do that."
Meanwhile, the congregation has been meeting down Reese Road at Fairview Baptist Church and is continuing to operate its outreach ministries, in spite of the hardships. The church's small staff is operating out of makeshift offices in what was an outreach building, which escaped damage by the fire.
"For us, going through this process of five months of not being able to move forward completely has been difficult," Diaz said. "Obviously, no place prepares for losing everything they have in one day. There's no plan for losing everything you have."
Another reason for the delay is that they discovered asbestos in the building, which means only a select few demolition companies can handle the job. And they stay pretty busy.
"The main (local) company that deals with it is the one that is tearing down your buildings downtown," he said.
Sorry about that. Personally, I'd blame Columbus State University.
But the good news is that, the building will come down much sooner than the city could get it done, and in the meantime, the church is persevering.
On that subject, if any Concerned Christian Readers out there want to help Iglesia de Dios Nuevo Pacto get back on its feet, I'm sure the Rev. Diaz would welcome anything you can spare. Their office number is 706-569-0902.
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