Reopening of Lansing church ‘best Easter surprise ever’
Lansing, Mich. – Some Michigan churchgoers received an Easter surprise when their century-old sanctuary re-opened its doors more than a year after a wind storm tore through the building.
Members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lansing expected to attend Easter Mass in the reception hall, where services were held while the worship space underwent restoration.
A strong wind separated the wall containing the large stained glass window from the building in March 2017.
The church received an occupancy permit for the renovated sanctuary a few days before this year’s Easter, the Lansing State Journal reported .
“It was quite the surprise. Very few people were aware,” said Joseph Lehning, a member of the church’s facilities task force. “They came in and saw the hall set up for a reception. Just seeing the reaction of people when they came in (was gratifying). You could see it on their faces – the jubilation, the surprise.”
Parishioner Jackie Womble called it “the best Easter surprise ever.”
After the wall was stabilized and repaired, structural engineers found other issues with the building. A wall contained voids, the floor needed bolstering, a stained glass window frame had rotted and the draining system was failing.
The restoration costs are projected to total about $3 million. The church has fundraised around $750,000, said Rev. Karen Lewis, the church’s rector. Insurance will cover about two-thirds of the bill, but they’re still around $250,000 short of their fundraising goal, Lewis said.
The large stained glass window is currently with a contractor bolstering the mosaic with new aluminum framing. A digitized image of the stained glass window sits in its place. Once the real window is finished, the church will close the space for installation, which could happen in May, according to Lewis.
The church community has grown stronger through the adversity, Lehning said.
“It’s brought our worshipping community closer together,” he said. “I’ve gotten to know certain parishioners better because of it. It’s given us an opportunity to use our God-given talents to benefit everybody.”