Church meets 90 day deadline to raise $1.6 million

DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It was a fundraising goal that seemed out of reach, but a local church announced it has raised $1.6 million in just 90 days to preserve their historic sanctuary.

"We're so excited that what seemed an impossibility for us for so many years has come to be," RPC Pastor Craig Bailey said.

The congregation of Redeemer Presbyterian Church can now call the 1839 Wentworth Street sanctuary, a church building dating back to the 1830s, a permanent home.

"For our young, small congregation to be able to amass $1.6 million in just 90 days, we're so thankful for everyone who helped us, and gave sacrificially, and encouraged us along the way," Building Committee Chair Nancy Vinson said.

The church had to raise the money quickly to buy the building before the former property owner turned it into offices and residential space.

Called the "Holy City Initiative," the fundraising became a city-wide effort.

"A goal of $1.6 million, most churches would have a year or two to raise that kind of money, yet our other churches, former Saint Andrews members, and preservationists have really rallied around to protect this," Vinson said.

It's not just congregation members thankful to preserve the historic property. Residents and tourists say this history is what brings people to Charleston.

"I think anytime we can preserve a historic building, especially a church, that it's a good thing. It's something that the community values,"Julie Wescott said.

"It's a part of your heritage. Your grounding. Your roots. You can tell your family, your children, teach them this is who you are, where you're from," Ben Barbee said.

RPC leaders purchased the Wentworth Street property at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Now church members will pitch in to restore and improve the old building.

The church says donations came in from across the country, as far away as Washington state. The $1.6 million is a combination of cash donations, pledges, and loans.