ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The city of St. Augustine has set aside $250,000 in its budget to help repair a historic church with ties to the civil rights movement.
The history of Trinity Independent Methodist Church dates back to 1821. A sign out front says it houses the city's oldest congregation, but the doors of the church have been closed since 2014, when the city deemed the structure unsafe.
The most noticeable damage is to the bell tower. There is a crack down the center of the structure and, from inside, light shines through the gaps.
But change is on the horizon for the church in the ancient city.
"The steering committee felt that it was important to do everything and get the church back to the point where a certificate of occupancy could be issued," said Tony Brown, administrator for Lincolnville Community Redevelopment Agency. "Trinity Independent Church is one of those buildings that has played a significant role in St. Augustine‘s history and, not only that, but in the history of the civil rights movement."
Trinity Independent Methodist Church Pastor Craig Anderson said the $250,000 that the city has set aside in its budget to help restore the building will allow the congregation to meet in the main chapel once again, make it possible for tourists to visit and preserve what the church stands for.
"We always had hoped and I knew something was going to happen because God is the only one that can close doors," said Anderson, who has been a pastor at the church for the last two years. "God closes doors that no man can open and open doors that no man can close, so there was always hope."
The exact timeline of the construction schedule is unclear at this time.
Lincolnville Community Redevelopment Agency said it put the significant funds in the budget to ensure there was enough money to make repairs this fiscal year.