Spirits up at First Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
On Aug. 28, 2016, part of the ceiling at First Presbyterian Church in Marshall. The insurance company has since denied the claim and the church has hired a lawyer. Pastor Pam Sebastian, staff and parishioners are waiting for the issue to be completed. A gofundme site has been created at www.gofundme.com/rock-churchs-lost-sanctuary to help with the cost of repairs.
Kelly Melies/Democrat-News

For more than a year, the people at First Presbyterian Church in Marshall have been improvising services in a gathering space adjacent to the sanctuary. Since part of the ceiling fell on Aug. 28, 2016, Pastor Pam Sebastian and the church’s members have been worshiping sitting at round tables.

When the ceiling fell, the church was dealing with the insurance company, which has since denied the claim.

“The initial response was that it was our responsibility to fix it and it was maintenance issues,” Sebastian said. “We did the fundraiser (eclipse weekend) as a sign of community solidarity and support.”

A closer look of the ceiling that fell at First Presbyterian Church in Marshall. The church is currently raising funds to help with repair costs, while involved in legal issues with the insurance company.
Kelly Melies/Democrat-News

The funds raised went toward the cost of the roof. The pastor and congregation do try other things to help raise money, like a fish fry and a taco salad supper, among other things, she said.

“But we can’t do it often since we’re a small congregation,” Sebastian said. “Fundraisers are a huge drain on energy.”

She said there is a gofundme site, which was created Aug. 2, and has a balance of more than $19,000 as of Oct. 2.

A sign outside the church that sums up the sentiment of everyone involved with the church. “We’re not huge. But I think we make up for that in determination," Pastor Pam Sebastian said.
Kelly Melies/Democrat-News

“At this point, everything that comes in is just a blessing,” she said.

She said they have also hired a lawyer and those legal conversations are currently happening.

“We have documentation for all these years for what we’ve done to maintain the building,” Sebastian said.

She added the insurance company has a responsibility to come by once in a while to inspect the building and area, but they haven’t done that as far as they are aware.

It’s a waiting game and a number’s game she said.

“We have to wait until we have all the estimates in for the cleanup and the restoration and all of these things,” Sebastian said. “Then we present those figures to the insurance company. “

For the time being, this has not deterred their spirits or hindering their worship activities.

“People are enjoying having worship sitting at a round table. They like having their coffee and talking back and forth,” she said. “It’s a different dynamic and it’s kind of fun.”

Sebastian said there is a sign outside the church that reads, "Our ceiling is down, but we are not.”

That seems to be the overall sentiment of the congregation.

“We’re not huge. But I think we make up for that in determination,” she said.

The sanctuary was completed in 1872, according to Sebastian. It was free standing until about 1929. A new addition was added during the Depression. Then after a while, that addition had to come down and the current setting was built.

Visit www.gofundme.com/rock-churchs-lost-sanctuary to donate.

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