|A tarp protects basement spaces below at the Congregational Church of Plainville. A new roof should rise over this space in the coming months.|
|An architect's model of the rebuilt Kelsey Hall.|
PLAINVILLE (12/19/2011) -- Last February, two storms of a hard winter swept over the Congregational Church of Plainville UCC. The first added an additional burden of wet, heavy snow to that already spread over of Kelsey Hall, the church's main dinner and gathering space. The 60's era flat roof could not stand the strain, and collapsed in a torrent of snow, plaster, wood, and steel. Before the basement areas below could be protected from the elements, the second storm brought heavy rains, and filled the nursery school rooms with water. This coming February, they hope to see walls and roof trusses rising, and a new Kelsey Hall starting to take shape.
Pastor the Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg gladly looked over an architect's model and plans last week as the town zoning board issued its final approvals and the church's Building Committee finalized selection of a General Contractor. It has taken time and care, and she praised the diligence of the group of church members tasked with overseeing the rebuilding effort. Rather than charge in, she said, this group will take the time, review the options, double-check the facts, and make sure it's a decision all can support. The committee includes a church leaders with a wide range of relevant skill sets, including insurance, construction, and engineering.
The congregation has developed a close and poignant relationship with their architect, Robert P. Mocarsky of rpm architecture. He has sought to gracefully integrate the new social hall into the existing structure, which has had no fewer than four construction periods. Styles of window and molding will not be "mirrored" but honored in this fifth addition.
But last October, Mocarsky's wife Lynn died abruptly. "The first thing he did," said Bamberg, "was to ask for our prayers." Congregation and architect have been prayer partners ever since, bringing their concern for each other to a loving God.
In the weeks before Christmas, church members went through the basement areas, doing the last demolition work they could do before professionals would begin. "We're hoping to make every dollar do the work of three," acknowledged Dr. Bamberg. The church's insurance will cover the vast majority of the costs, but the effort before them is substantial. The loss list has 440 items on it, and the Insurance Board has upgraded the severity of the claim twice.
|An architect's drawing of the entrance to the new Kelsey Hall space.|
To pay for things that are not covered, the church has engaged in a sustained fundraising and grant-writing effort. They have raised over $40,000 so far, and people have been amazingly and consistently generous, Bamberg said. One tiny parish, she recalled, has twice sent a contribution for $100, one which represented a substantial, sacrificial effort.
As for Rev. Bamberg herself, she finds herself confirmed in her call to the church. As a former director of a pastoral counseling center, she learned the skills of grant-writing, one not frequently required of parish clergy. Now she will put that expertise to work in seeking additional financial support.
In a world where people often don't have a clear sense of their work and place, she said, "I guess I'm meant to be here."