Church members in Cuyahoga Falls try to save their church

Posted at 7:06 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 19:06:10-05

A historic church in Cuyahoga Falls that's been functioning for almost 200 years could soon be out of service, that's if its members can't save it.

As we spoke to members of the historic Pilgrim United Church of Christ they said they're devastated by even the very thought that this staple in the community, could be lost. The help they've gotten in the past is not quite enough, and now for a second time, they're desperately seeking the community's help.

"My daughter was baptized here, my husband and I were married here, my grandchild was baptized here... so it's, it's my life," recalled Janis Morgan, a church member for more than 70 years. Morgan knows just how much the building means to the community.

"Everybody knows that steeple... the steeple you can see from the expressway," she said.

But sentiments aside, when it comes to caring for a building that's more than 180 years old, It's safe to say you're going to have problems.

"There's always a project, there's always something else that has to get done," explains Pastor Kirk Bruce of the church he's been shepherding for the past 16 years.

That's why the congregation is asking the community to step up and help repair and replace the steeple that's been struck by lightning twice and recently had parts blown off by a windstorm, causing flooding in the sanctuary.

"I got some sheets of plastic, and I went up into the attic and spread the sheets of plastic, and I said this doesn't solve the problem, but it just prevents the next problem," Pastor Bruce said.

The steeple repairs cost a whopping $250,000 so far they've just raised half of that.

 "Great opportunity to make a difference, not only for the members of the community of the church but to make a difference in the community of Cuyahoga Falls," said Pastor Bruce.

And by it being the oldest running building in the county, once home to the underground railroad, and a national historic marker, Pastor Bruce told me to give up the building would be a huge loss.

"That concern has always been there, but we're not going to live in the place of fear, we're going to go forward from a place of hope."

Words echoed by his members who said they're in it for the long-haul.

"It is just inconceivable, and if we do believe what we say we believe, faith, it will happen," Morgan said.

Construction on the steeple is set to wrap up by the end of this month. The congregation is hoping to have the rest funds raised by then, if not, the absolute very last resort would be to move.