Help save historic church building

Redeemer Presbyterian Church members Beth Plante (left) and Nancy Vinson want to see their church, or even another congregation, continue using the sanctuary of the former St. Andrews Lutheran on Wentworth Street, instead of it being converted into a residence.

The historic church at 43 Wentworth St. got a welcome reprieve this week from plans to redevelop it for residential and office uses. Now the challenge is to ensure that it can continue to be used as a church.

It will be up to the congregation of Redeemer Presbyterian, the preservation community and the generosity of local residents to ensure that the church, which long served as St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, remains a place of worship.

The congregation of Redeemer is highly motivated to buy the church, which it has used for five years since the Lutheran congregation left to merge with another church west of the Ashley.

Still, it will require a major short-term campaign to come up with the $1.6 million asking price, possibly within 60 days.

That campaign should be greatly assisted by the efforts of Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, local preservation groups and churches, notably First Scots Presbyterian Church, that have committed to help.

If Redeemer can purchase the church, it would be the last time the issue of another use for the building is ever raised.

The Rev. Craig Bailey, Redeemer Presbyterian’s pastor, has promised a conservation easement to ensure that it couldn’t be converted to another use.

City Council was poised to vote on a motion to reject a use variance approved by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals when the compromise agreement was reached with the involvement of the church owner, the prospective buyer, the city and Redeemer Presbyterian.

Councilman Blake Hallman, who had planned to challenge the BZA decision, said the agreement is an opportunity for Redeemer Presbyterian to achieve its goal and for the city to preserve its quality of life. Both are worthy.

Contributions can be made to Redeemer Presbyterian, 43 Wentworth St., 29401, or online at