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"And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up every man straight before him." (Joshua 6:1-5 RSV)

In the early summer of 2008 the first sign of trouble, a "gash" running lengthwise, was noticed on both sides of the church along the exterior soffit area.  The siding was removed to expose damaged and missing wooden dowels from the beams used to build the church over 200 years ago with the "post and beam" technique of that time.  As well the side walls had a noticeable slant.

Structural engineers were consulted and determined that the church would need to be "straightened" and reinforced to reverse the damage.  To insure the safety of those attending services, the altar was moved to the parish house with the help of the parish members and the Christian Outreach Men's Ministry Association (COMMA), an ecumenical group of the West End that has come to St. Mary's aid before.  Also, many items were removed to temporary storage to prepare the interior for the restoration/reconstruction work by Mr. Jim Lank, a local contractor.  The first service in the parish hall was held on June 8.

The process to ready the exterior of the church for repair included removing exterior chimneys no longer used.  A portion of an interior chimney, discovered in the attic area but no longer in use and weighing 1,000 pounds, was dismantled.

Steel  bolts replaced all wooden dowels in the beams on both sides of the church.  Underneath the church, concrete block piers were rebuilt with poured concrete footings for support.

The cemetery and entrance grounds were given careful consideration during the work period.  This included the building of wooden tents to protect the grave markers in the oldest active cemetery in Wicomico County.

To make it possible to "lift and straightened" the church, each side of the building had a steel beam put in place to support the roof.  Crews assisted in lifting the church so that the steel bolts could be installed to replace the wooden dowels.  The steel beams were then removed.

Interior supports at a 45 degree angle were added to the existing horizontal beams and vertical supports.  Care was taken by the contractor to finish and paint these new supports to match the existing wood.  Additional cosmetic details were added:  old siding removed, wavy exterior walls were straightened with the installation of wood trim, plywood and new vinyl siding. Insulation material ("Tyvak") was "wrapped" on the four sides of the church.

Two large trees were removed from the front of the church and a new sign, made of material not requiring painting, was placed above the entrance. A new cross on the roof peak will be installed in the near future.

When the work was completed, COMMA and the parish members returned the altar to the church as well as items moved to temporary storage placed in their original positions.  Services were held in the church on October 26.  Bishop Shand celebrated the Holy Eucharist and blessed the restored/reconstructed church on November 2.

Everyone of the "St. Mary's Family" participated in and supported these efforts.  Special thanks goes to Jim Donaldson, Senior Warden, who invested many hours in the project; Bob Wolf who served as a daily "sidewalk superintendent and quality control expert," and Patty Wolf for recording each step with photographs and narrative to share with the parish members and to be used on this website.  Also, appreciation is extended to COMMA for their "brotherly love and help" in moving the altar and to the contractor, Mr. Lank, for his outstanding caring, cooperation and craftsmanship. 

For your presence whenever two or three have gathered together in your Name.
We thank you, Lord.

For this place where we may be still and know that you are God,
We thank you, Lord.

                                                                                      Book of Common Prayer, page 578

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Photo credit:  Patty Wolf