Historic Roanoke church reopens sanctuary after eight months of repairs

Greene Memorial United Methodist Church needed renovations because of mold problem

ROANOKE, Va. – The stained glass windows inside Greene Memorial United Methodist Church’s sanctuary are no longer obscured by scaffolding.

The sanctuary, which was built in 1892, reopened for Sunday service after it had been closed for repairs since March.

“There is an energy that was crackling in the sanctuary today," said Greene Memorial United Methodist Church’s pastor, Rev. Philip Waltz. "It’s an enthusiasm and a hopeful feeling as they looked at all we had done in 8 months. It’s just gorgeous.”

The renovation to the sanctuary, which costs $1.3 million, replaced the peeling wallpaper and removed a mold problem that had plagued the building. Waltz made it a point to rededicate the sanctuary during his opening sermon.

“Let us recall the history of this church, and look to its future, so we can rejoice in its holy use,” Waltz said.

Greene Memorial had held its services in its basement and in its lobby while the sanctuary was being repaired. Although Waltz is happy to have the large sanctuary back, he says the closely confined services inspired him to encourage his congregation to fill up the front rows of the pews.

“When you’re preaching six feet away from someone on the same level, it’s different than when you’re standing above them at a distance back,” Waltz said. “We continued that same spirit, and people really responded to the closeness and intimacy that came with that space.”

Greene Memorial still has minor renovations in progress on the outside of the building. Waltz says all of the reconstruction should be complete by Christmas.