After a significant storm a couple of years ago and decades of wear-and-tear, the Simcoe Street United Church is in desperate need of restoration.
Scaffolding has taken over the front of the 153-year-old structure and while the project is underway, it has been facing difficulties over the past few months, namely COVID-19 and funding-related ones.
“This building is part of the bones of Oshawa,” said Rev. David Moore, Simcoe Street United Church.
Reverend Moore has been delivering sermons at the church for the past 25 years.
Moore says he would have loved to start repairs sooner, but money was an issue.
“The cost was astronomical from the perspective of a small congregation in downtown Oshawa,” he said.
The price tag — about $2 million, and Moore says money has been harder to come by recently.
“We’ve depleted our reserves, they’re gone now. We’ve gotten loans to cover some more, we’ve got a couple of small grants, but it’s nowhere near adequate,” said Moore.
Erik Naczynski, who has been helping with the project, has been a member of the congregation for the past 15 years.
“We had some fundraising work that was planned for 2020 and unfortunately with COVID we’ve had to stop that for right now,” said Naczynski.
Tom Plue, the owner/operator of Sky-High Restorations and Consulting has restored a number of churches during his 30-year career.
“All of the materials we use are historically correct right down to the bricks. The bricks we’re using for this church … to have that right color of buff-yellow, come from England,” said Plue.
Plue says they started last August and were supposed to be done by the end of next month but the project has been delayed by a few weeks because of restrictions.
“There are the challenges of how many (workers) we can employ on a site at any one time and we can’t have overlapping trades on the site,” said Plue.
The church hasn’t held a service at the facility in months and will continue to do sermons online for the near future, but Moore says it’s been busier than ever with the Backdoor Mission helping the homeless.
While they’ve received some help from the community with the project, they’re going to be relying on them even more now.
“I think if they know that we need them that they’ll be there for us just like this congregation has been there for the city over the last two centuries,” said Moore.
Donations can be made on the churches website to help support the restoration project.