Church/state not the issue


To the Editor:

In James Sepanara’s letter of April 22 (“Church/state, no divide,”) he left the impression that the town had decided to spend taxpayers’ money to support the functions and missions of the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. If that were indeed the case, it would be highly inappropriate.

I would like to clarify for the record that the church asked to be considered as a recipient of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to preserve a beautiful and historic building, which is a landmark in the historic village center. I might also add that over the course of its history, the church building has served many functions as a community asset, including civil activities: housing the early town meetings, serving as a social gathering place during winter community suppers, and occasionally as a concert hall. The weathervane on the top of the steeple was the early weather forecaster for seaman and farmer alike, who planned their activities based on the direction of the wind.

The church does not have a sound foundation — like many of our old buildings, it was set on granite blocks — and it is currently in the process of sinking. The first $30,000 of CPA funds (2009) went to finance a necessary engineering study and architectural drawings. The current grant of $150,000 will help finance the new foundation, which will cost an estimated $330,000. The church family will work to raise the remaining funds needed for the work.

I am saddened that Mr. Sepanara appears to care so little about the history and beauty of the Island community in which he chose to live.

Dionis Montrowl

West Tisbury