Historic church still dealing with Hurricane Matthew damage

The St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church was hit really hard by Hurricane Matthew

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. --  Derry Greene is the trustee in charge of the his church building at Greater St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church in St. Augustine.

His task is more of like an act of love, especially now after Hurricane Matthew.

"I have a passion to get St. Mary's get back on its feet," he said.

Hurricane Matthew ravaged the church, and it's still dealing with the damage nine months later.

"We had 4 feet of water in here," Greene said.

That was on the first floor where the fellowship hall, classrooms and offices are.

'We lost everything in our admin offices," he noted. "The refrigerator was floating sideways because it had that much water in here."

"The elevator lift is not working because the water ruined it and that's been out for a while," he added. 

That limits the elderly who need to get upstairs to the sanctuary.

Green explained: "What we've been doing is, we've had people meet them on Sunday morning and help them up the steps."

Friends and church members have helped with some of the repairs. The congregation still meets on Sundays for worship at the church. 

They've patched up doors with plywood, but water still leaks into the church in some places. 

Upstairs in the sanctuary, there is damage as well.

"You can see we've got some holes up there now," Greene pointed to the ceiling.

You can see sunlight through some of the small holes in the roof. 

"We were on the verge of getting a new roof anyway," Greene explained. "We thought it would last us another year or so. But with the hurricane, it ripped off shingles. The downpour was just so great. It made the roof cave in even more."

Many of the people in the congregation have fixed incomes and so it's been difficult to raise the money for all the needed repairs.

"They give us as much as they can," Greene nodded. "It would be a shame if we let this church as historical as it is."

It was in this sanctuary where Dr. Martin Luther King spoke during the civil rights movement. The church building is nearly 100 years old, and Greene's family started attending in the '40s.

He wants to help save this place of history, but he knows the congregation will need some help doing it.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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