Redeemer congregation to hold gathering Friday to save downtown church

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Redeemer Presbyterian Church will hold a gathering this Friday to discuss the importance of keeping the existing building at 43 Wentworth Street in its original use as a church.

Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. and other City Council members will attend the Redeemer Presbyterian Church Preservation Efforts meeting on Friday, July 20 at 12:30 p.m. The event will take place on the front steps of the church located at 43 Wentworth Street.

A Charleston city council vote on whether or not to uphold a zoning board variance allowing the historic downtown church be sold and turned into a private home was deferred on Tuesday.

Councilman Blake Hallman said the vote was deferred after the property owners decided to work out a good faith arrangement for the purchase of the church to the congregation currently worshiping there.

The St. Andrews Lutheran Church on Wentworth Street is owned by Holy Spirit Evangelical Lutheran in West Ashley. The Lutheran congregation moved to Bees Ferry Road five years ago from the busy downtown streets.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church and it's 200 members moved into the church on a temporary basis soon after. Redeemer put an offer of $1.6 million on the property to match local restorationist Nancy Snowden, who wants the property converted into a residence.

Members of the church are using the Friday meeting to help the congregation raise money in order to purchase the property.

Nancy Vinson with Redeemer Presbyterian believes Holy Spirit will grant them 90 days to get the money together to purchase the property.

"This is an exciting challenge," said Vinson after the meeting. "With the help of our congregation, fundraiser's and Mayor Riley we believe we can raise the money."

If the challenge is not met, Snowden's attempt to purchase the property will move forward. Vinson said Snowden agreed to Tuesday's compromise.

"We are very delighted Mrs. Snowden has graciously agreed to step back and allow us to raise the money to buy this historic church," said Vinson.

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