The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 9, 2013

Church Support

Ridgeview takes step in rebuilding sanctuary

Four months after a large fire damaged the sanctuary of the Ridgeview Baptist Church, church members are preparing for perhaps the biggest step in the church’s rebuilding process.

The sanctuary — complete with balcony — remains a maze of scaffolding with the only light floating into the darkened area from a hole in the roof above the pulpit area. The sanctuary and its outer hallway are fenced in and locked up.

Pastor Mark Keyser said the church is in a “holding pattern” as it awaits the four main supports needed to begin the rebuilding process for the sanctuary. The laminated beams — which were compromised in the fire and had to be rebuilt — extend from the outer hallway and meet at the roof of the structure.

The beams, Keyser said, are expected to be brought in during the next few weeks.

“What they’re going to try to do is brace and shore those outer walls up and then surgically cut each beam out and lift them out and put the new back in,” Keyser said.

The replacement beams will allow crews to start putting the roof of the sanctuary back on, leading to the church eventually reopening the main area by November 2014.

A passerby saw fire on the roof of the sanctuary after lightning struck the church around 3:30 a.m. June 1 and called 911. The blaze gutted the sanctuary, but controlled by firefighters who kept it from the education wing and other areas of the church.

Damages from the fire were estimated at more than $2 million for the church, which has been in Danville since 1953. Insurance covered all of the damage expenses.

According to Keyser, the coming year is one he hopes will be a year of growing for church members, who have been conducting church services at the Executive Plaza, 3550 N. Vermilion St. He said the accommodations, while appreciated, have prompted church-goers to change some of their long-held traditions.

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