Church seeks funding for urgent repairs

Photo by Daniel Jackovino
The south side of the roof of the Brookdale Reformed Church, visible in photo, is to be replaced this month.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Brookdale Reformed Church has initiated an emergency fund drive for this year and next to help with building repairs. A special meeting was held following the Sunday service Sept. 29, to discuss the necessity for replacing half the church roof. The section to be removed is beneath solar panels that were installed in 2016 and although new shingles were installed in 2013, there is now evidence of leaking. The estimated cost of removing and reinstalling the panels is $11,490; roof work will be another $18,000 for a sum of $29,490. Pledge cards were distributed at the meeting, attended by the Rev. Susan Dorward.

Repairs will be overseen by church members Rich Cantwell and Jim Thompson and should be completed by the end of October. According to Thompson, the original solar panel vendor, Geoscape Solar, will require a day and a half to remove the panels and wiring, and two days to reinstall them. It is estimated that to take one day to remove and install a new, watertight roof, and an additional day for shingling by roofing contractor CRG.

At the meeting, there was a discussion about how to pay for the roof repairs. Thompson said he did not know to what extent insurance would cover any of the costs, but an adjuster was expected to inspect the roof. The solar panels cost the church $140,000 and that debt has been reduced to $87,000.

“We’re really chugging,” Dorward said.
The church has been offered a line of credit up to $40,000 by the Synod Foundation and “Holy Roof Fund,” drive would lower some of the debt, but the church has a small congregation. It does open its doors to outside organizations, and enlisting their support is under consideration. There is also the possibility of opening a “Go Fund Me Page.” Dorward said the church would cast a wide net.

Thompson said once the sheathing is removed, he was uncertain as to what the contractor would find.
“We don’t know if there is structural damage,” he said.

Photo by Daniel Jackovino
Elder Jim Thompson, on Sunday, Sept. 29, explains the need for a roof replacement to church members.

The new sheathing will be 3/4 inch plywood, so “We won’t have to worry about it in our lifetime,” Thompson added.
According to Dorward, there have been multiple consultations and estimates for the work and the church is “not going about this lightly.” She closed the meeting with a thought and a prayer, saying, “We’re a continuation of faith. We’re having problems, but so did our forefathers.”

Dorward said her thoughts were guided by Proverb 27:18: “If you care for your orchard, you’ll enjoy its fruit; if you honor your boss, you’ll be honored.”

“Lord, you know what is before us,” she prayed. “We go forward in a prayerful spirit with open eyes and ears.”
Following the meeting, Thompson said the current roof sheathing is from 1850 and that three-quarter inch plywood will be used instead of five-eighths inch, which is normally used, because of the distance between the rafters.

There was no evidence that the panel installation had caused the leaks, he said, because he had inspected the inside of the roof and did not see any of the lag bolts holding the panels in place poking through.

The leaking was discovered April 19, Good Friday. The church has a metal ceiling and its paint was peeling. Pews beneath the area showed signs of damage, too.

“The ceiling has old-fashioned insulation made from wood,” Thompson said. “The wood holds water. I’m hoping the insurance company considers part of the repairs.”

Dorward, Thompson and Cantwell agreed a problem for the church is a problem for the community because of the outreach services the church offers. These include a free community meal the last Saturday of each month, meeting areas for Alcoholics Anonymous, Nar-Anon, an art class and special events, although these would not be interrupted because of repairs.

“We could really use the community’s help,” Doward said, “not only with the cost of repairing the roof, but with their prayers as well.”

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