105-year-old church faces condemnation

Antioch Church, located at 522 East Gillespie St., was served papers explaining code violations last Thursday due to roof issues. The 105-year-old church could face being condemned if certain aspects of the structure are not addressed (Photo by Sarah Raines, SDN)
Staff Writer

A 105-year old-church in the oldest community in town has been required by the city to make improvements to its structure or face being condemned.

Antioch Church, located at 522 East Gillespie St., was served papers explaining code violations last Thursday. Because there is no mailing address or property owner for the building, Starkville City Planner Buddy Sanders delivered the letter personally to the church.

“The church is in a dilapidated state and we have been working with the church since the minister came and visited with us a little over a year ago,” Sanders said. “It’s just time to do something.”

Sanders said the issue is as much a health, safety and welfare issue as it is an aesthetic issue.

The letter served to the church cited IPMC Code 2012 Sec. 304 Part (8), stating that the roof allows rain to enter the building and roof framing needs to be repaired.

The church has been told to fix the code violations for the congregation’s safety.

“There’s a possibility of the roof collapsing onto the church members,” Sanders said.

Pastor Mary Carr said the letter told the church they need to apply for building permits to make the improvements.

So far, the church is trying to raise funds to replace the roof and the windows outside.

Antioch Church meets in its original structure, which was first used as a mission over a century ago. About 40 years ago, one of the pastors did some renovations to the structure, but the building is the original church.

Now, the church’s roof is leaking, the stained glass window over the front door is broken and the steeple has sunk in. The church is planning fundraising opportunities, currently, to cover the work required by the city as well as some other renovations needed.

“We need a lot of work,” Carr said. “We need the roof done, new carpets, some little stuff that needs to be done…We are trying to get some outside people to help. We just don’t know how far it’s going to go. “

For community outreach, Carr hosts workshops to help women who are interested in becoming or are ministers.

“I was the first black baptist woman pastor in the area, so it’s catered more to trying to train women in the ministry, to let them know that they are not by themselves and to encourage them in the ministry,” Carr said.

Carr said the church’s membership has dropped because of the look of the building, but the church still has service every Sunday morning with Sunday school at 10 a.m. and church at
11 a.m.

When the church raises enough money, priorities will be set to fix the roof and windows and then to beautify the outside of the church.