Damaged ceiling closes St. Stephen’s worship hall, church eyes repairs as Christmas nears

MIDDLEBURY — St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church officials are sizing up damage to the ceiling within the main worship hall of the historic building on Middlebury’s town green, in hopes of soon resuming regular services in that space.
It was on Thursday, Dec. 5, that one of 14 beams buttressing the ceiling of the worship hall became dislodged, according to Church Sexton Peter Dempewolff. This also resulted in separation of some of the sheetrock surfacing of the ceiling. Church officials immediately suspended public activities in the space and asked contractors to inspect the damage and recommend a fix. As the Addison Independent went to press on Friday, a repair project was still being evaluated. Dempewolff said the damage to the ceiling is not affecting the stability of the church roof.
Church officials hope the damage will be repaired in time for Christmas-related services. But in the meantime, area clergy and the Town Hall Theater have reached out with offers to host St. Stephen’s events until the ceiling work is completed.
Dempewolff noted the Congregational Church of Middlebury has already hosted a few St. Stephen’s events, and the Middlebury Methodist Church has also offered to co-host worship services. The Rev. Dr. Susan McGarry said the congregation has been appreciative of the offers and has held some services in its basement area in order to keep on a regular schedule.
“It’s been challenging,” she said. “There has been a gracious response from the community.”

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