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Hurricane-Ravaged Midtown Church Reopens Sanctuary After $1M in Repairs

 The Church of the Covenant re-opened its sanctuary after spending over a year on repairs.
Church of the Covenant
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TUDOR CITY — A church that was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy has finally reopened its worship hall after more than a year of repairs.

During the hurricane, strong winds blew a water tower and chunks of brick off of a nearby building and onto the Church of the Covenant — tearing a 20-foot hole in the roof and sending water pouring into the church's sanctuary. The church's 80-year-old organ was destroyed, and its stained glass windows and kitchen were damaged.

“It was like the top 20 feet of the building came off and fell onto the roof,” said Gregory Reid, an elder at the 310 E. 42nd St. church. “Then water from the water tower came pouring through like Niagara Falls.”

After the storm, the church began the painstaking process of replacing the sanctuary's floor and reconstructing its wall. The church also commissioned Peragallo Pipe Organ Company to build a new organ using any salvageable parts from the damaged organ, Reid said.

The renovation of the 1871 church cost nearly $1 million and was funded entirely by insurance, he said.

“There was a silver lining in the cloud,” Reid said.

While the repairs were being made, the church had to move its services to the building's auditorium, where the congregation has been meeting for the past year, Reid said.

The church was finally able to move services back to the sanctuary in time for Christmas, he said.

Due to the property's crumbling facade, the Department of Buildings issued a full vacate order at the 300 E. 42nd St. property on Oct. 31, 2012, according to a DOB spokeswoman.

The collapse was weather-related and an ECB violation was issued for "failture to provide adequate safety measures for the public," and the property owner paid a $2,400 fine for the violation, she said.

In addition, the church recently welcomed interim pastor Rev. Cornell Edmonds, who replaced a series of temporary pastors who had led services in the church for the past 10 years, Reid said.

Edmonds, 56, a Virginia native, lives in New Jersey with his wife and three children. He has previously practiced law and was a minister member of the Presbytery of New York City, which runs several Presbyterian churches in the city.

“We are a nearly 150-year-old mission church, pregnant with history, that is now eager to make a bold claim upon our future,” Edmonds said.