Tree crashes through roof of Cary church

06/25/2014 1:19 PM

06/27/2014 8:47 AM

Greater Life Ministries has about 75 members who meet at a small church on Chapel Hill Road near downtown Cary.

The group focuses on outreach, giving clothes, fans, furniture and bed mattresses to families who need them. A weeklong summer camp was set to start Monday, when about 20 kids planned to take part in music classes, tutoring sessions and field trips.

But now Greater Life Ministries is figuring out its next move. A large tree crashed through the roof of the church’s rented building early Tuesday morning.

“What do you tell the families you were helping?” asked Mary Baxter, 60, pastor of Greater Life Ministries.

No one was at the church at the time of the accident, and no one was hurt.

A neighbor later told church members the noise was so loud that he thought a truck had crashed into a house, Baxter said.

It’s hard to pack up a church and move under good circumstances, she said. But it’s especially hard in a situation like this, when church leaders must find a place to worship in a hurry.

Greater Life meets for church services on Sundays, along with Bible studies on Tuesdays and services on Fridays.

“It’s so important to bring people together,” Baxter said of worship.

About 15 people showed up at the church on Tuesday to help move furniture and other items from the basement. That’s where Greater Life stored wares to give to needy families.

Gregory McCrae, 25, is the pastor of Kingdom Life, a group of about 30 people who meet at the site on Saturdays. He said he was shocked when he heard about the tree, and he came to help.

“I was quite devastated,” McCrae said. “I said, ‘Where do we go from here?’ ”

Mount Zion Church in Cary owns the building, and the property is for sale.

There are plans to bring in another church tenant, said Sam DiFranco, a partner with Trinity Properties, which is overseeing the sale.

Eventually, DiFranco said, the 1.8-acre site could be sold to a developer who would turn the corner into commercial use. Cary has focused on reviving its downtown, and Chapel Hill Road could see plenty of changes.

“It would make an ideal retail corner,” DiFranco said.

But for now, he said, the owners will likely repair the building if costs are less than $20,000.

Meanwhile, Greater Life will continue to look for ways to help local families. The group started in 1990 as the Miracle Center, Baxter said. It moved from Raleigh to Cary last summer.

“We love our ministry,” said Shaughnessy Johnson, 35, a Greater Life member who helped with the cleanup effort on Tuesday. “Just knowing we have to come together as a community, as a unit, to get through this.”

She added: “This won’t divide us. It divided the building, but it won’t divide us.”

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