NORTH AUGUSTA—Our Lady of Peace Church looks a lot different these days.
People arriving for Sunday Mass enter a building covered by scaffolding and plastic sheeting. Plywood protects the windows.
The church on Old Edgefield Road is in the middle of a construction project that started in December. Workers are removing the artificial stucco walls, and replacing it with hard-coat stucco, said Deacon Robert Hookness, who is helping oversee the project.
Deacon Hookness said the work was necessary because building experts have discovered problems with the kind of artificial stucco used when the church was constructed more than 20 years ago.
Members of the building committee decided to replace the material and put on a new roof simultaneously. Workers have removed the exterior walls and insulation, and checked for mold and mildew damage, which was minimal, Deacon Hookness said. They are placing horizontal supports over the metal studs in the walls now to support the hard-coat stucco.
Deacon Hookness said the stained glass windows have been removed to protect them during repairs, which workers estimate will take nearly a year to complete.
“At the end of the project, we’re going to have a stronger building and a drier building,” Deacon Hookness said. “This will help eliminate the problem of mold and mildew.”
The project will cost an estimated $950,000, and will be funded from a capital campaign that started in 2007. The contractor is RCN Contracting of Augusta, Ga., and the architect is MCA Architecture of Greenville.
The parish has $600,000 so far and is trying to raise the remaining $350,000, the deacon said.
The building project has caused church members and staff to make adjustments. Daily Masses are held in a chapel in a donated mobile classroom on the campus.
Father Timothy M. Lijewski, pastor, said the church is still used for Sunday Mass and funerals.
“One of the sad things about this project is we had perpetual adoration here for many years and we had to suspend that,” Father Lijewski said. “We’re hoping that when this is finished, we’ll come back renewed with even more people committed to adoration.”
The pastor said people can pray and meditate before a tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament in the temporary chapel.
“I owe my deepest gratitude to those who made that chapel possible,” he said. “It came from the Aiken County public school system, and parishioners offered to have it moved on site. Other people came and repaired leaks in its roof. It’s been a wonderful effort to unite our church community, because members of both the Hispanic and the English-speaking community here worked together on it.”
Father Lijewski said he’s been impressed with the patience people have shown since the project started.
“The excitement and the necessity of what’s being done far outweigh the inconvenience and any frustrations,” he said. “There’s excitement that we’re getting this work done that was so desperately needed.”