After nearly 100 years in service, St. Michael's Anglican Church needs literal and figurative support to stay standing for another century.
Audrey Campbell, a member of the church's small congregation, explains that the parish needs the community's help to raise $5,544 for labour, steel rods, and turnbuckles to secure the bowing exterior walls of St. Michael's.
"I never noticed, but people who knew about buildings have noticed for a few years. It has to be pointed out to me," she says.
The bowing walls are not immediately obvious on a quick glance of the church's exterior. However, while touring the building, Campbell notes that the window frames are not flush with the walls and stick out more at the top than the bottom, a telltale sign of bowing.
A contractor recruited an engineer to thoroughly inspect St. Michael's and found the building to be totally sound aside from the slowly warping walls, says Campbell.
"We've had an engineer in, so there's no danger at all.
"He said, 'Oh no, I'm not afraid at all to step inside this building, but it does need to be taken care of."
Campbell says there have been no changes or repair work to the outside of St. Michael's besides painting since the church opened on Oct. 19, 1913 at the corner of Chapman Street and Granite Avenue.
Inside, church members have removed a door blocking a fire exit and removed a step at the altar for safety reasons, but otherwise, the interior has remained unchanged for the last 99 years as well, she says.
"When you think a hundred years old, that's a long time."
Furniture includes the church's original pews, bolted into the ground.
Campbell notes that many Nicola Valley residents have fond memories tied to St. Michael's Anglican Church and participated in baptisms, weddings, and funerals there.
Although the congregation now consists of only 20 to 25 members and does not have a resident minister, St. Michael's continues to hold regular services and is still available for events like weddings.
Services are often held in the neighbouring parish hall, especially in winter, due to the cost of heating the church. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the Soup Bowl also operate out of the hall.
Nevertheless, the congregation wants to preserve the church itself, a designated City of Merritt heritage building, says Campbell.
To raise funds for the repairs, church member Linda Clarke and other volunteers have organized a "Raise the Roof" steak dinner fundraiser at the Grand Pub and Grill on Saturday, May 26.
Campbell says the parish will also apply for grants but adds that the available grants only cover part of the repairs.
"You need to have 50 per cent of the cost…so we need to fundraise first."
Church members will decide whether they have to plan additional activities depending on how much money they earn at the dinner.
Tickets for the steak dinner are available from Grand Pub and Grill and by calling St. Michael's at 250-378-3772. Members of the congregation will also sell tickets at Wal-Mart from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, May 18.