After about a two-year pause, plans for a new Grace Chapel AME Church on Lady's Island are being revived.
Work on the 7,500-square-foot building near the intersection of Holly Hall and Sams Point roads started in January 2012. But after several months, construction stopped.
The Rev. Jeannine Smalls said she's not sure why the work came to a halt. Smalls was named pastor in November by the state bishop after the Rev. Lawrence Miller retired. Part of her mission is to restart the construction.
"I'm trying to assess it," she said. "There's a lot of stories, and I want to put my finger on it. But it's my understanding it was the economy and finances."
It appears a loan could not be secured, "even though we had a substantial amount of funds on-hand," she said.
Smalls and Grace Chapel, along with a consultant, are working toward resuming construction in July or August. Meanwhile, church members are starting to clean up the site, identifying construction needs and using the property for events such as last week's prayer service.
Smalls estimated about 70 percent of the work must still be done, and some repairs are needed to parts of the structure that have been damaged by weather.
The church, which has about 220 members, started a fundraising campaign in January with a goal of $100,000, and it is a quarter of the way there, she said.
Founded in 1869, the church has been at 502 Charles St. in downtown Beaufort since 1873. The new location will have more room for growth, Smalls said.
The five-year plan calls for child care and senior programs, as well as space for a young adult program.
Information: 843-524-6091; Grace Chapel Faith Forward Campaign, P.O. Box 114, Beaufort, SC 29901.
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