Posted by: mollyrossiter | February 8, 2009

Displaced again?

For those who missed my story Saturday about the fate of Salem United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids:

The congregation is looking for a temporary home. Again.

The original church building in downtown Cedar Rapids was heavily damaged in June last year when first the sewer backed up and filled the basement to the point of knocking out the windows and then the Cedar River filled the sanctuary.

The congregation was offered a rent-free one-year lease on the former Kenwood Park Presbyterian Church building, as long as the building didn’t sell. If and when that happened, the Salem congregation would have 60 days to find something new.

At the end of January, it happened. A family from Arizona bought the church building.

“We figured March 21 was that 60-day mark,” said the Rev. John Louk, who took over as pastor at Salem literally days after the building was flooded. Now, for the second time in seven months, Louk would be faced with moving his new congregation to a temporary home.

The congregation has been given a small reprieve, however. The buyers won’t be moving to Iowa until late spring or early summer and they’ve granted the Salem congregation permission to stay in the building until that time.

Louk said congregation leaders were relieved. The March 21 date is in the height of the Lenten season and “it’s still March in Iowa,” he said.

Still, church leaders are weighing their options. The downtown building has been cleaned and gutted but congregation leaders are waiting for word from the city and the church’s insurance carrier before taking action with that building. A recession and rising unemployment makes new construction unattractive for now, Louk said.

“We’re just in a holding pattern like so many other people,” he said.

“We have a big wait,” Louk said. “Ultimately we’re going to have to decide how to move forward.”

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