A place of worship was wiped out by Ian’s high wind. The structure itself is standing, but with a tarp over the roof and trees lying in the parking lot.
The damage to the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ is unbelievable, but the congregation is working hard to do what it can to get back on its feet.
Right past the battered church sign is the church’s parking lot, littered with hurricane debris. Small chairs for children who learned about the bible inside and pieces of untouched scripture underneath dirty cloth lying beside shattered glass or flipping pages in the wind.
Damage in the parking lot of Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. (Credit: WINK News)
“We just simply need to put our, you know, our trust in each other and god as a spiritual community and continue to pull together as we have from the moment this occurred,” said Senior Minister Mark Boyea.
Boyea began his job at the church just 10 days before Hurricane Ian’s biblical storm surge drenched the walls inside and out. It took the beautiful, lit-up sanctuary all the way back to its basic structure revealing wooden frames and shadows.
Damage inside the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. (Credit: WINK News)
“The basic structure is intact, but we’re looking at a complete rebuild inside,” Boyea said.
For more than two months, the church of christ has been closed to its 400 members.
WINK News spoke with Boyea about the congregation’s loss.
“In these circumstances, it’s OK to not feel grateful. It’s understandable,” said Boyea.
The basic message of Christianity is to never lose hope.
“Within the discouragement and the disappointment and sadness, which is perfectly understandable and ongoing, there is also, you know, a strong belief and a strong resolve that we will get through this, and we will get through this together with each other and God’s help,” Boyea said.
Boyea said he doesn’t know when the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ will reopen. Meanwhile, services continue at the Refuge Church in Fort Myers on weekends and online.