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The Southside Church of Christ in Los Angeles is in need of major repairs to its 42-year-old building.
While checking for termite damage — there was none — the congregation discovered broken support posts in the east wing. The purlins, which serve as additional support beams, were also cracked. As a result, the roof, which has not been replaced since the building was constructed in 1979, has sunk 3-6 inches.
Al Wilson, Southside’s personal evangelism minister, told The Christian Chronicle that the church’s insurance company initially agreed to pay for the emergency shoring required to prevent further collapse but later reneged. Its inspector determined that the building was not in immediate danger.
But multiple independent contractors have told Southside that the building is unsafe in its current condition. Wilson’s office is in the damaged section, and he said one contractor told him he could not stay there.
“She said to me, ‘Mr. Wilson, you need to move out of this office immediately because this building, this side of the building — the roof could collapse any second,’” he recalled.
The east wing also houses several classrooms, a dining room and a medical emergency room. The rest of the building, however, is not in danger, and the church continues to have services in its west wing.
Southside is still trying to work with its insurance company, which says that the current issue was caused by a faulty design and the original builders should be responsible for repairs, according to Wilson. The church, meanwhile, maintains that everything was built to code at the time.
And though he is not certain how the damage occurred, Wilson speculated that it may have been caused by earthquakes — several fault lines run beneath the city — or simply age.
Southside has hired a contractor to submit building plans and secure the necessary permits, but without an insurance payout, Wilson said the congregation cannot afford the cost of emergency shoring at around $60,000. A complete repair, meanwhile, would cost about $200,000.
“We are of the opinion that we cannot wait for the insurance company, as we haggle with them, to honor the claim that we have submitted because we are concerned not only about the safety of our people but for the further deterioration of our building,” Wilson said.
The church is seeking financial assistance to help it make repairs as soon as possible and sent out this email earlier this month.
“We are in a bad place, and we are trying to do the best we can to come out of this situation,” Wilson said.
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