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Members of flooded South Norwalk church hoping to restore sanctuary

The Rev. Jeffery Ingraham visits his Hurricane Sandy-damaged sanctuary at Calvary Baptist Church Friday in South Norwalk.

NORWALK, Conn. – The members of a South Norwalk church are unintentionally returning to their roots this morning, meeting for Sunday services in the small hall that was once their sanctuary. That’s because the newer part of their building has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Calvary Baptist Church on Concord Street was inundated in the “pond” that enveloped that part of South Norwalk during the storm, church pastor the Rev. Jeffrey Ingraham said. The water was 1½ feet deep inside the sanctuary, soaking the carpeting and damaging some of the pews.

The Rev. Nellie Mann said she thinks it will be December before members could use their sanctuary again.

“She’s more optimistic,” Ingraham said, with a little laugh.

Industrial air blowers were running on the bare concrete floors Friday, where spikes protruded at regular intervals now that the carpeting has been removed. Wood and sheet rock has been removed from the walls to a height of about two feet to prevent the growth of mold.

Ingraham said the cleanup thus far has cost about $19,000. A contractor who specializes in church restoration had been there Thursday and is expected to make a presentation to the church’s board of trustees this week.

How will this be paid for?

“We will be using a lot of reserves,” he said. “We have received pledges from a number of churches who have offered to give us assistance.”

He had gotten a check for $1,000 the night before, and a church from another denomination has pledged to send $2,000. Macedonia Church and Grace Baptist Church have made pledges and the Connecticut State Baptist Convention has asked constituent members to provide relief, Ingraham said.

“It’s going to be a grass roots effort,” Ingraham said.

Between 100 and 130 people attend Sunday church services, he said. One member said someone came to her door this week and gave her $50 to help with the restoration, he reported.

“We’re hoping the hearts of people are touched,” Ingraham said. “Quite frankly, while we don’t anticipate the large donations, the fact is that the smaller donations do count.”

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