By Ali Smith

The twenty-eighth of October 2012 was a joyous day at St. James United Church in Perth-Andover as worshippers returned to the church building after six months away.

Last March, both the church building and hall suffered significant damages when the St. John River overflowed.  The flood caused a state of emergency to be declared and one-third of the village’s residents were forced to leave their homes.

St. James Hall, built in 2004, was completely destroyed by the floodwaters but luckily insurance fully covered the $96,000 damages.

“The damage to the church itself, however, was not covered by insurance and it was quite extensive,” says Dawn Bishop, treasurer of the St. James Building Fund.

Almost immediately, work began to restore the buildings and it has been a group effort.  While people like Richard DeWitt, the Chair of the Building Committee, have been on site each day supervising and doing small jobs to help out, groups like the United Church Women have taken on specific tasks such as ensuring that all the contents of the hall have been replaced.

Still others have contributed financially to the appeal. “Since word spread about our disaster, donations started coming in almost daily,” says Bishop, “from former ministers, former residents of Perth-Andover, groups who used our Hall on a regular basis, and churches, UCWs and individuals within our Presbytery.”

To date, donations total approximately $17,000.  The church also used the existing $11,000 in its building fund toward the cost and has applied for loans and grants through the United Church and the bank.  There are, however, many bills that still have to be paid with an estimate that $50,000 is still needed to break even.

The congregation is thankful for the help that has been received from so many different places and people are happy to return to their church home.