The roof was leaking badly. The plaster was damaged and paint had peeled. The carpet needed to be replaced.
"It was so bad that on rainy days, we were using umbrellas indoors and out," says the Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre, describing the loss of a usable worship space at the Church of the Holy Cross in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood.
Now after extensive – and costly – repairs, the members of the diocese’s only predominately African-American parish are about to return to their historic, but newly restored church.
They plan to be there by Christmas.
Even though the space is still crowded with scaffolding and tarps blanket everything from pews to organ pipes, Dr. McIntyre and her congregation intend to reclaim the space on December 20th for a service of Lessons and Carols.
Crews are still at work fixing the plaster and applying fresh paint. They also had to shore up the windows and will lay new carpet. All this, after repairing the roof.
The tab for the restoration is around $200,000, a tremendous expense for a parish serving one of Pittsburgh’s poorest neighborhoods.
"I told my people I will never ask them for more money because of these bills," Dr. McIntyre says. "But I also told them I’ll ask everybody else that I can."
Ask, and you shall receive.
One anonymous donor gave Holy Cross $102,000. Someone else donated $5,000. So did the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, which lists the century-old property at Kelly and Collier Streets as a landmark.
The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh pitched in to guarantee an $80,000 loan the parish is seeking from the Episcopal Church Building Fund.
At its December 7 meeting, Diocesan Council reduced Holy Cross’ 2010 assessment, allowing the parish to redirect more than $6,000 toward other expenses.
Dr. McIntyre says Holy Cross is increasingly becoming a "beacon" among its neighbors. It’s a subtle reference to the parish’s vision statement, but also a tangible reflection of reality. As more nearby homes fall into disrepair and outright disappear, a spiritually-alive and structurally-refurbished Holy Cross Church is becoming all the more visible.
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross
7507 Kelly Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15208 (Homewood)