An area congregation fights to keep their church open

By Katherine Tellez

December 22, 2013 Updated Dec 23, 2013 at 12:01 AM CDT

Edwards, Ill. -- The United Methodist Church in Edwards has been a staple in the community for more than 100 years.

Heavy rains caused massive flooding there in the spring..

The church didn't have flood insurance and now the congregation can't afford to make necessary repairs.

"This is a great little church," said Chuck Traver with tears in his eyes.

Chuck Traver has been a member of the Edwards United Methodist Church for 20 years.

But come May, Taver along with the other 37 members may not have a place to call home.

"I'm afraid I'll never to be able to find the situation we have here… With all the kind hearts, the great people," Traver said.

The flooding caused major damage in the basement, damage they can't afford to fix.

The biggest concern is the walls. All of them need to be replaced.

Their insurance company will not renew the church's policy if the repairs aren't made -- forcing the church that has stood here since 1905 to close its doors.

Pastor Phillip Merrit has stood at the head of this church for the last 18 years.

"When you serve people, you learn who they are and you learn to love them and you learn that they love you,” said Pastor Merrit.

The members of this church are now praying for an answer.

"Whatever God decides for us to do, that's what we'll have to do...I just hope he's got a plan for us," said Traver.

But one thing is for sure, they will fight until the very end to keep the doors open.

“We want to stay together but if we get pushed into a corner, what can we do," said lifelong member Dan Hopwood.

The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church denied help to the Edwards church.

Now, it has three options: move into a new space, repair the flood damage or close its door for good.

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