Parishioners salvage items from church before its demolition

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, file)

TIPTON, Ind. (AP) — Parishioners have been working to salvage fixtures from a 125-year-old church in central Indiana before the deteriorating building is demolished.

Members of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Tipton have been trying to preserve statues, alters and other religious items in the Gothic-style building since January, the Kokomo Tribune reported. Several volunteers on Tuesday helped disassemble the church’s solid oak doors and stained glass windows.

A structural investigation revealed that the church had suffered from severe water damage for the last 30 years and that it would cost $3 million to $4 million to repair. As a result of the costly estimate, Bishop Timothy Doherty from the Diocese of Lafayette announced in January that the church would be demolished.

Masons who conducted the investigation notified the church that the structural deficiencies in the building were dangerous, so it moved across the street into the gym of its former school, where mass and other church services have since been held.

“It’s tough,” said lifelong parishioner George Tebbe, who was on hand to help out at the church on Tuesday. “It’s like losing part of your family. It’s all part of life. You deal with it and move on. But it’s still hard.”

Before the church is torn down, which officials hope will happen within the next year, members hope to remove its pipe organ, steeple, church bells and rows of oak pews.

“You hope to see all this stuff up again somewhere and not just packed away in storage forever,” said Tom Ripberger, another lifelong member who helped on Tuesday. “Lots of members have been part of this church their whole lives. That’s a long time, and it’s hard to see it come down. It’s probably for the best, but I just hope we can build a new one.”

The church is considering whether it should repurpose the gym where it currently holds services or build a new structure after the current building is razed.

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