Local restaurant helps Phila. church rebuild
PHILADELPHIA - March 7, 2012 (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia church damaged during Hurricane Irene last fall, may soon receive enough money to rebuild or relocate.
And that is thanks to the generosity of a local diner and its patrons.
The Bethlehem Church of God, in Germantown is finally getting the help it hopes will provide a permanent home for its parishioners and clergy.
"I'm still in awe of what we see here," said Deacon Howard Whitner.
The gaping hole on the outer wall of the Bethlehem Church of God on East Haines Street has been there since last September 8th, when floodwaters from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee overwhelmed the sewage drainage system nearby.
A young woman drowned in her car in the intersection between the church and the one across the street, which also remains closed, having sustained mostly interior damage.
But the building foundation at Bethlehem Church of God weakened, causing the main sanctuary to fall into the basement.
Still, church members' faith remains strong.
"We're still a church regardless of what happened here," said Deacon Whitner. "We're still bound together. We're still a family."
For six months, James Memorial United Methodist Church a few blocks away has opened its doors to the pastor of Bethlehem Church of God, presiding Elder, Samuel Harris and his congregation.
"We're in fundraising mode right now," said Deacon Whitner.
Their biggest fundraising support has come from the Trolley Car Diner on Germantown Avenue.
Eight years ago, it started the Helping Hands Week project. This week, patrons may donate 15% of their check to help the Church.
"It's one thing to be a restaurant, it's another to be a partner with the community, and that's what we wanted to do," said Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car diner.
Deacon Whitner and Elder Clark are praying this week's donations will help make them whole again.
"We know that there's something greater waiting for us at the end of this journey," said Elder Wilbur Clark.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so by clicking on the link below.
There are instructions on how to print out a coupon to take to the Trolley Car Diner and 15% of the cost of your meal will go to the church.
The Helping Hands Fundraiser runs through Sunday, March 11th.
germantown, philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state, lisa thomas-laury
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