Sheepshead Bay Steeples Will Remain

sheepshead-church-2-2011.jpgToday The Eagle points to a Courier Life article that says the steeples on Sheepshead Bay’s 142-year-old United Methodist Church will not be demolished. The church’s pastor says the congregation brought in a new contractor who presented an affordable plan for preserving the steeples. The news follows previous reports that said the structures were a safety hazard and the congregation didn’t have enough money to keep them intact. The Courier Life story also notes that the renovation will be the first the church has seen in more than 85 years.
Steeples Saved! [Courier Life]
Historic Sheepshead Bay Church To Save Its Leaning Steeples [Eagle]
Steeple Demolition Uncontroversial in Sheepshead [Brownstoner]
Here is the Church, and There Go the Steeples [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo by wallyg.

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  • OMG – so this wasn’t actually the first step in a systematic approach to demolish a church that wasn’t even protected in the first place.

  • benson

    I wonder if Minard will take back what he said about the pastor.

  • BoerumHillScott

    Does this mean that situations are not always simple and best explained by assuming the worst about people?

  • I’m glad the congregation took the matter into their own hands and obtained a second opinion.

  • infinitejester

    Having spent the morning talking with not one but two engineers about two unrelated issues for my church, I’m guessing they got a loan on their endowment (the only thing that keeps a lot of these fading mainline churches going). Then the RAND architect sktetched a plan and they bid it out to a recommended disability-specialist contractor.

    Anyone notice in the Times article quotes in the third link, that there is no real “official” church response? the number one thing that bothered me about this saga is how no supposedly reputalbe media source got a quote from either the church council president, Exec. Committee, or communications director. Even tiny old churches have designated spokespeople but that Times article made it sound like the reporter wandered coffee hour and just finally selected someone who looked approachable. The Times is a good paper but their editorial vision, I just often am puzzled.

  • Jester, ssems The Times got a quote from the Pastor – is that not sufficient?

    “The church’s pastor, the Rev. Jay Kyung Kim, said they were unstable and a public safety hazard. The spires — the taller of the two rises more than 80 feet from the ground — have driven cracks down the interior of the church’s facade, and will be demolished and capped as soon as the weather allows. New steeples will probably not be built, he said.”

  • infinitejester

    Man did I effin misread that article. Thanks Jessi although that quote is not apparently verbatim like the ones from the BID. But there’s is a quote from the chair of the financial board, basically the treasurer. Oops!

    I take back what I said; I was sensitive to the topic.

  • By Minard Lafever on February 11, 2011 4:26 PM

    My bet is that the pastor is lying. The little steeples could probably be stabilized for 30 to 40 thousand dollars. They are not large or scary. He wants a new concrete church, I’m telling you. Check back next year as see if a) the steeples are fine and pastor is gone. b) the whole church is demolished and the pastor is raising money for the new church.

  • I think what this shows is that making noise and getting press coverage in situations like this can often result in having people who have the skills, connections, or wherewithal to help, finding out about the problem, and getting in touch with the affected parties. This is true whether you need your steeple fixed or you need life-saving surgery, or to replace stolen wheelchairs. People can be amazingly generous with their time, expertise, and money if they just know about something, and it moves them.

    It also shows that the first opinion, especially on something of this importance to the church, congregation, and the community, is not the only opinion. That proved true in the MacDonough house cellar collapse, as well. Tearing down, while the easiest solution, is not always the best solution.

  • Jesus must be happy.

  • infinitejester

    “It also shows that the first opinion, especially on something of this importance to the church, congregation, and the community, is not the only opinion. That proved true in the MacDonough house cellar collapse, as well. Tearing down, while the easiest solution, is not always the best solution.”

    Point taken. I certainly can admit to being “poor in spirit” about some of these issues, given that the only time a limelight gets shown on them brings horrendous comments. The average attendance of this church is 25, according to the UMC website.

    Being able to install something newer and more efficient is just something churches need to be able to do, though. I’ve yet to see very many historic diagrams or drawings of sites and then look at them on a sunny day and think, “Gee, it’s still the same.” Things change, life progresses, and to me, a spire is not so important. This money – wherever it came from – has a lot of better uses.

  • It’s great that they won’t tear down the steeples.Kudos to the pastor and the congregation for getting another opinion and being sensitive to the architectural beauty of this little church.

  • So how was I wrong? The stabilization of the steeples is not some monumental feat. On the contrary, their dismantling so as to preserve the body of the fragile frame church intact, would have been tricky and expensive -a perfect opportunity to get rid of the whole building.
    The congregation decided to take matters into their own hands and do the right thing and that is good news for them and their community. I have no horse in this race.

  • infinitejester

    Minard, I think you are confusing how things get done in large, evangelical churches with how mainline ones do things. To say it is not a monumental feat – ?? Dismantling them is more expensive – please cite why you think that. Please also cite why the other possible initiative at the church should be postponed in favor of preserving the steeples – a crucicla decision point, no?

    If Tim Keller wanted to plant a new branch of Redeemer here and wanted to redo the building, that is one thing. He should be allowed, but anyway, that is not what is going on here, I’m sorry.

    But fact is, this is a UMC church, about as mainline, old-school, town square Protestant as you can get. And those places run on fumes and leftover endowments.

  • I understand where you’re coming from, IJ. And you’re are indeed right. I think the opposite side of that is perhaps, that church buildings in particular, hold a special place in the community, especially since so many of them were built after much dedication and sacrifice on the part of their original congregations. And as you know, the building is representative of the teachings of the Bible (or Koran or other religious text). I read the other day that someone said early paintings were the books of their time and I think the same could be said of churches, mosques,synagogues and other religious structures so that when one is torn down it is a multiple loss on many levels. That said, today’s congregations are facing harsh realities.

  • In order to safely dismantle the steeples without damaging the church or killing the workmen, they would need to be stabilized first. So once they are stabilized, why not just leave them? It’s not rocket science. The crucial ingredient is to want to keep them. That is what I found totally lacking in the pastor’s attitude. And indeed, the matter was resolved by the congregation. perhaps our online conversation here motivated them. Who knows?

  • benson

    Minard;

    Way to man up.

  • In the older thread it seemed that some people thought the saving the steeples without putting an incredible burden on the congregation was not even possible. I am happy about the outcome and I personally think it actually backs up the position that demolition was NOT the only option, as it was presented at the time by some. Also, some informed opinions (not mine) stated that the cost estimate was too high and I guess that turned out to be true.