Members of Mooreâ€™s Chapel AME Zion Church are ready to move forward.
The congregation was forced to relocate three years ago due to structural problems of the church. They have been searching for a solution ever since.
â€œI think we have explored all possible options. The church believes it is time to move on,â€ said the Rev. Ralph Williamson.
Due to structural damage, Mooreâ€™s Chapel will be torn down and replaced with a new church on the same site.
Mooreâ€™s Chapel AME Zion Church was established in 1898 at 1009 E. Main St. The church was destroyed in 1941 by an electrical fire, and a new church was built in the same location. The wooden building was constructed on a dirt foundation then encased in brick. No solid foundation was set.
A few years ago cracks in the buildingâ€™s interior walls hinted of the problem. Plaster began splitting in the sanctuary, and evidence of water damage was discovered in the basement.
Eventually support beams under and above the sanctuary began to sag. The church brought in contractors to assess the problem. Estimates topped $1.5 million with no guarantees. More problems once the project was underway could increase the cost, said Williamson.
The congregation has received estimates from several contractors. They last visited the church in March.
â€œWe have not heard anything different as far as trying to save the church,â€ said Williamson.
A demolition date has not been set. Williamson wants to consult with architects to make sure the project is handled properly. He plans for windows and bricks from the existing church to be salvaged and used in the construction of the new building.
â€œWe want to take as much from the old building as possible,â€ he said.
The demolition and new construction should cost $500,000 to $600,000. The congregation plans to kick off a capital campaign within the month. Projects include selling block art and historical paintings.
In the meantime, church services continue at Oaklawn Center. A temporary building of worship now sits behind Mooreâ€™s Chapel. Williamson said he hopes services will move to the new building in May.by Diane Turbyfill