An East Donegal Township church that dates back to before the Revolutionary War needs a new roof for the historic structure.
Donegal Presbyterian Church, which was founded some time before 1721 (records from the time are spotty), is marking its 300th anniversary with a fundraising campaign to replace the roof.
“A significant amount of the building won’t make it to 300 if we don’t replace the roof,” said Mark Bruce, president of the church’s session (a religious term roughly equivalent to a board of directors).
The work involves replacing cedar shingles with a composite roof and replacing the roof substructure.
It is important to get the work started before snow collects on the roof, Bruce said, because every winter with a leaky roof causes more damage to the structure underneath. Last winter’s extreme storms caused a great deal of damage and nobody knows what the coming winter will bring.
“The damage it can do if we go through another season like that can be irreversible,” Bruce said.
Bruce said in an interview that the church has a goal of raising $125,000. It has raised $52,000 and has an additional $23,000 pledged, but it will need more to replace the roof. The fundraising campaign is to continue through April 1.
And the church is not just reaching out to Presbyterians, but to anyone interested in historic preservation.
“We are approaching not only members of our church, but also reaching out to the community,” Bruce said.
The church at 1891 Donegal Springs Road, Mount Joy, was an outpost in the Revolutionary War. On its grounds is the stump of the “witness tree,” where congregants gathered around and pledged their support for independence.
“It’s more than a Presbyterian church; as far back as the 1700s, it’s served the community well,” Bruce said.
The church is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is among the oldest churches of that denomination.
“We may be the oldest in the country,” Bruce said, though nobody knows that for sure.