But an attached, beautiful old church that was built in 1919 — six years after the Great Miami River flood — needs to be restored so the congregation can make that its sanctuary and transform its current sanctuary into a community center that can meet several neighborhood needs, including helping young people and senior citizens have a place to meet each other.
They estimate it will cost $280,000 to renovate the church, with the most pressing need being for a new roof to keep water out. The historic church had been occupied by Bethel Community Church.
The Rev. Vanessa McQueen and her husband, the Rev. Frederick McQueen, are co-pastors of The Sanctuary Covenant Christian Fellowship, which has perhaps 50 members. They are proud of several services they provide to people:
- The church gives out sometimes as many as 150 backpacks to students before the start of school, with items lovingly chosen based on whether it's for a boy or girl, and the grades they will attend.
- For Thanksgiving and Christmas, the church provides complete meals for working poor families that aren't needy enough to receive public assistance. At Christmas, those meals are accompanied by toys or other items the children ask for — sometimes they request underwear or socks.
- Another service is Mary's Helping Hands, which provides toys, clothing, coats, strollers, and toiletries to young children — newborns through 5 years old. This service can only be accessed through Butler County Educational Services.
“Even as Mary’s Helping Hands is growing, we’re pressed to find a place to house it,” Vanessa McQueen said. “We don’t want to have to pull back from serving people because we can’t meet the growing need.”
“Unfortunately, because we’re faith-based, many doors that are open to other organizations (through grants and other funding) are closed to us,” she said.
“Maybe somebody’s in the community who can step up and say, ‘Hey, you need money for the roof? How much is it? Here, take this and do this,” she said. “I know it’s out there. And maybe not one person, but a group of people.”
“We’re not asking anybody to help us do what we know we were called to do, but we are asking for assistance in getting that building back to the beauty that it was,” she said.
“We have the most tremendous building next door that’s just deteriorating because we cannot get the finances that we need to do that,” she said.
“You can restore buildings, but if you don’t restore the people….” Frederick McQueen said. “That’s what we’re looking to get back to doing. It’s about restoring the positive.”