NEWMAN — The long-standing congregation of the Newman First Christian Church is working hard to keep the walls of its historic church from falling down.
The south-facing wall of the 109-year-old building has developed major structural problems, interior cracks and water damage during the last year or so. So in January, church members decided it was time to address the matter before they lost their historical church and large stained-glass window to the structural damage.
The congregation, which was established in 1870, has seen a decline in membership in recent years, with only 35 to 40 members in attendance at Sunday worship. So members needed to reach outside to help raise the $30,000 to $50,000 needed for the restoration of the church wall.
The Rev. Ben Williamson said the congregation is fully committed to saving the historic church building; relocating or building a new church is not a consideration. If during the reconstruction the damage appears to be more extensive, the entire wall might need replacement.
"The goal is to save as much of the wall as possible and restore as much as possible," Williamson said.
Kevin Tracy, a Newman resident and owner of Kross Restoration Masonry, has been hired to do the work beginning in October.
The large stained-glass window embedded in the wall will be carefully removed and stored during construction.
The fundraising committee, church board and Christian Women's Fellowship have been working on fundraising opportunities throughout the year.
"It's been phenomenal," Williamson said.
The church has received donations from church members as well as nonmembers, community organizations and other churches and religious organizations.
"God has watched over us very closely," fundraising committee member Mary Trevarthan said. "We couldn't have made it without those people."
Trevarthan said the building project and fundraising efforts have also brought church members closer together.
"Younger members have stepped up to help the older members. It's a common goal that we are all working towards. We all love this church," she said.
Williamson agreed that it has renewed a sense of community and dedication in the church.
The next fundraising event is an evening of music and fellowship Saturday at the Newman City Park. The festivities will start at 5 p.m. with a pork chop sandwich meal, silent auction items and a 50/50 raffle.
Local favorites — and church members — The Dunn Family Band, will perform from 6 to 8. The band will entertain the crowd with a variety of music, including classic country, rock 'n' roll favorites and a little bit of gospel.
If weather turns unfavorable, the event will be inside the American Legion post next to the park.
If you go
What: An evening of music and fellowship to raise money for the Newman First Christian Church
When: 5-8 p.m. Saturday; meal at 5; Dunn Family Band plays at 6
Where: Newman City Park
Meal: Pork chop sandwich, chips, drink and dessert
Cost: Free will donation; proceeds to help restore the church's wall