For the past few weeks, three orange and white Snorkelifts parked in front of Northeast United Methodist Church at Lowry Avenue and Cleveland Street have been hoisting masons up to work repairing the building’s brick façade. Two church members, Shirley and Bill Jackson, are spearheading the project; Shirley serves as the operations chair of the church and her husband Bill is on the operations team. Other team members include Jim Bohn, Sharon Carley, Susan Carley and Sande Hill. Shirley noted that Bill’s 50 years of construction management, 30 of them with Mortenson Construction, “Is a strong asset in supporting management of this project for the church.”
Shirley said the work involves tuck-pointing mortar and replacing damaged bricks for the first time in nearly four decades, as well as repairing and painting the louvers and windows in the bell tower. She said that much of the damage is a result of years of sun, moisture and wind. She complimented the local contractor, Building Restoration Corporation, “whose performance has been extremely professional, responsive and accommodating.” Jackson said the timetable for completion is uncertain because any unseen damage uncovered during the restoration has to be repaired, too. The final cost is yet to be determined, as well.
Pastor Tyler Sit said the project is being financed by a capital campaign, cash reserves and community donations; the church’s “Buy a Brick” program encourages one-time and recurring donations and volunteering time anywhere in the community. “That’s what we’re counting on, because in addition to raising money, we want to be raising a kind of buy-in for this building to be a place of transformation, and volunteering is one of the indicators that people are passionate about it.”
Sit said the reason for this work and other enhancements is, “because we really feel called to reach the kids in our neighborhood and to serve the children in our neighborhoods specifically. So in addition to the building changes that we’re making, we’re also partnering with Minneapolis Toy Library, a nonprofit group that is a lending library for toys.” The toy library is set up in an assortment of rooms in the church.