Local News

Sanford church uprooted second time after tornado

Posted May 11, 2011 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2011 7:05 p.m. EDT

— Building code violations have forced a Sanford church damaged in last month's tornado to move from one temporary home to another.

The April 16 tornado knocked out the steeple and the roof of Christian Faith Ministries, at 3110 Cameron Drive in the Jonesboro community.

Work has started to repair the modest structure, which is less than a mile from the Lowe's home improvement store that was destroyed in the storm, but Rev. Donald Kivett needed a place for his congregation to meet for a couple of months until everything is fixed.

The owner of the old Cabinet Depot store on Lee Avenue put out the welcome mat for the church after the storm, and Kivett said it seemed like a perfect fit because it was nearby.

"We went ahead and moved everything in here. We had done two services, and it took more than a week just to get word to all my members that we were here," he said.

In addition to the pulpit and organ, the church moved the food distribution program it runs to serve anyone in need.

"We've seen a lot of families that come in that we've been able to help that have been hurting," Kivett said.

Sanford officials said the food can stay, but the Sunday morning worship services have to go.

"Unfortunately, that space was not deemed adequate for public assembly," said Bob Bridwell, the city's planning director.

The building didn't have enough exit doors for the 160-person congregation, Bridwell said.

"It looked OK to me, but that's what they said, and that's what I have to do," Kivett said.

"I can understand how I would feel as a pastor trying to get his congregation in a space," Bridwell said. "It's (a matter of) being able to protect people in the event there was a fire, getting them out of the building."

Sanford officials worked with Kivett to find a place where Christian Faith Ministries could worship within code, and the church will move to the Lee County Arts & Community Center, which occupies a former high school building at 500 N. Steele St., on Sunday.