ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Craig Anderson is the new lead pastor at the Trinity Independent Methodist Church.
It's a church that dates to the early 1800s.
He has a really positive attitude, even though his church has hit hard times ... again and again.
"I realize there's a solution to everything," he said with a smile.
Three years ago, cracks in the hundred-year-old bell tower jeopardized the structure of the building. Since then, the church doors have been closed.
While fundraising to scrape up about $100,000 to repair the bell tower, the small congregation learned this year that the building had termites. This week, the tents went up over the church building.
"We said. 'let's get the money up and get it fumigated and tented.' So that has happened and it's passed now," Anderson said.
And now, Rev. Anderson is proposing a radical idea.
"If we cannot get the money to fix the bell tower, we would like to have it removed," he said as he gazed up at the tower.
He suggests setting "it on the ground" until the church can "get the money to repair it."
He is suggesting the temporary removal of the bell tower "so we can open our doors and preach to the souls."
And grow the congregation.
The congregation has been meeting in a small house right next to the main church building and that's because the city deemed this main building too dangerous to be in because of the bell tower.
"The only problem we have is the bell tower," Anderson said.
The city's tight historic codes require would require the church to remove and rebuild the bell tower. But according to the city, if it's a stand-alone removal, the church would have to apply for a demolition permit ... and approval could take a while.
"If the city would allow us to do that we can go forward," Anderson said.
The historic church is daily referenced on tourist train and trolley tours.
"Hopefully, one day we'll be able to open doors for the tours, so they can come in," he said.
Anderson wants his church open for members and visitors ... bell tower or not.
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