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Church in Albion finds hidden roof supports, meaning million-dollar repair isn’t needed after all

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 November 2017 at 10:18 am

North Point Chapel will have grand re-opening of closed off sanctuary on Dec. 3

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Mike Outten, pastor of North Point Chapel, is pictured giving a tour of the sanctuary of the former United Methodist Church on Sunday after the North Point church service.

North Point has been holding services in former Sunday school classrooms in the building since April.

The church at 19 North Platt was the long-time home of the United Methodist Church, which now shares a building at Christ Church with the Episcopalians.

The United Methodists left their building when it faced a $1 million expense with its roof. Engineers and architects had inspected the roof and believed it needed significant structural repairs and supports.

The church was built in 1861 with an addition put on in 1914. When the addition was included, the sanctuary was reoriented. The experts who looked at the building didn’t think the trusses were properly supporting the roof. They feared the roof, without the proper supports, was causing the walls to push outward and threatening the viability of the structure.

A group from the North Point Chapel looks over the sanctuary on Sunday. The floors have been refinished and the walls painted

The building was for sale but drew little interest due to the structural issues with the roof and walls. North Point Chapel, a new church that was meeting in the Arnold Gregory Memorial Complex, bought the church site for $38,000, with the deal closing in January. North Point also agreed to assume the $22,000 contract for having wooden supports to hold up the roof, in case the walls weakened.

Mike Outten, pastor of North Point, has 35 years in the construction business. He believed he had a solution for keeping the building structurally safe for years to come. Outten was planning to run steel rods from one side of the sanctuary to the other. The rods would be up high near the roof and a turnbuckle would be used to tie them together.

In September, Outten and his son Adam were investigating the best spot to place the steel support.

Adam now runs the family construction business, Northern Exteriors. Adam removed ceiling tiles near a truss in the sanctuary. On Sept. 26, he found two steel rods were already there above the truss.

This is the spot in the ceiling where North Point made a hole, looking for a location to run steel rods to prevent the exterior walls from pushing outwards. New rods aren’t needed because two rods are already in place.

Outten called the architect who had inspected the building when the United Methodists owned it. The architect inspected the roof again and deemed it safe once the steel rods had been found. The firm had missed the steel rods in previous inspections. Those rods were obscured in thick insulation.

The congregation, in 1914, “knew exactly what they were doing,” when they reoriented the sanctuary and put on the addition, Outten said.

The architect has declared the roof safe, Outten said, and Village Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti has given North Point a certificate of occupancy for the sanctuary. Vendetti had condemned the space.

The wooden support beams were removed about two weeks ago, and Outten has been working overtime to refinish the wooden floors, and paint the sanctuary interior. The off-white paint interior is now the color chrome, which is gray, blue and purple.

Outten has also met with one of the United Methodist Church leaders, to share the news. He has welcomed the congregation to return to the building and be part of the church with North Point Chapel.

Mike Outten is pictured in the sanctuary in late March. The wooden beams were in place to help support the roof. Those beams were removed about two weeks ago.

Outten said North Point bought the church as a leap of faith. North Point started two years ago with two people in a Bible study. On Sunday about 40 attended services in the Sunday school room.

This Sunday they will move from classrooms for holding their church service to the main sanctuary. Outten said they will be there for two Sundays before a grand opening service on Dec. 3. He wants the two Sundays to test the sound boards, and get the worship band ready on the new stage.

In addition to painting the inside, Outten and church volunteers have changed the sanctuary stage, adding space for the band. The organ will still be used because North Point is striving to blend traditional hymns and contemporary worship.

Outten also had to climb 26 feet high on scaffolding to replace 84 lightbulbs in the ceiling.

His son, Adam, repointed mortar for bricks on the exterior of the building.

“This is a building that was condemned,” Mike Outten said. “We are going to have a grand reopening on Dec. 3 because we want people to know that God is very much alive. This building is just a tool that God will use for a very long time to come.”

Adam Outten last month is shown putting new mortar between bricks on the exterior of the North Point Chapel in Albion.

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