The Montauk Community Church is reaching new heights with the installation of a new elevator, giving seniors and those with disabilities a leg up when they visit the church.
According to the Reverend Bill Hoffman, the elevator has been on the church’s to-do list for quite a few years. Only now has the congregation raised enough money—approximately $70,000—to install the lift, and the work started last week.
“It’s been a good four or five years since [getting an elevator] has become a serious discussion,” he said. “For those with mobility issues, age or other things, this opens up the building in ways that we haven’t had before.”
The elevator is a three-stop elevator, meaning that it will open on three levels of the multi-story building. Rev. Hoffman said that the building is only two stories but has had multiple levels added within, and that the elevator will give access to 85 percent of the church.
Originally, the elevator was going to open right into the sanctuary, but realizing that that could be disruptive or even embarrassing, church officials went back to the drawing board.
“Nobody wants to pop out of the elevator and have 75 people staring at them,” Rev. Hoffman said. “Now it enters elsewhere.”
To make room for the doors and the flux of people, the elevator was moved to the church’s loom room, where the church’s Women’s Guild makes rag rugs. The loom had to be taken apart and reconstructed in an adjacent room.
Christine Herbert, a member of the Women’s Guild, said that despite the loom’s relocation, the elevator is a welcome piece of equipment.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” she said. “The majority of the congregation is getting older. We’re hoping with the elevator we’ll be able to attract more people that might not have come because they can’t get up the big flight of stairs.”
Inside the building’s front doors, a steep staircase leads churchgoers up to the sanctuary. The elevator would provide people who might struggle with the stairs an easier way to reach that level.
“Some of the older members who have ability issues, usually several people once or twice a year, can’t even get in the door,” the reverend said.
Not only will church members benefit from the added entrance, but so would other community members who use the church. In addition to a Spanish language ministry that meets on Saturdays, the church is used for group meetings and even its Women’s Guild rummage sales.
Much of the proceeds from the rummage sales have actually gone toward funding the elevator, according to Rev. Hoffman, and a few years ago, the church was left with a bequest specifically to put toward an elevator. Within five years, the church raised enough money to fund the rest.
“We feel as though one of our goals is to be as open and welcoming a congregation as we can be to anybody who wants to use our facility,” Rev. Hoffman added. “This was a significant investment.”