Residents work to bring purpose historic church

Photo by Brian StockmanPhoto by Brian StockmanPhoto by Brian Stockman
Brian Stockman
Staff Writer

That big brick church you have seen sitting vacant for a few years on the corner of Baker Alley and Center Street is not vacant any longer. A group of local business owners have gotten together to bring the Evangelical Covenant Church back into service as a non-denominational worship center. 
“The theme of the first gathering will be 'come as you are'," said Terry Hertzog who will lead the first service at the new worship center this coming Sunday.
"We want to get people who don't come to church to basically come to church," said Tony Vigilione and his wife, Sherry, who recently purchased the property. "A place where everyone can feel welcome to be who they are and still share in the church community." 
The Church itself was founded in 1884, opened in 1885 to serve the Swedish community in Ridgway, and continued as a place of worship up through 2015.
"When my friend Steve [Cleveland] told me about this place up for sale, it did not take me long to make the decision. And seeing how everything has just fallen into place this week, it seems that this was meant to be," said Viglione. 
Although the iconography and structure of the building are decidedly Christian "The Church Gathering" is designed to be non-denominational, and during the first few months will have different speakers or leaders of services each week.
"Tony and I will do this first Sunday, next week Steve Cleveland is going to take over, then we have other folks interested like Father Justin [Pino]. We are interested in seeing what direction God wants us to move in," said Hertzog.

To read the full article, see Saturday's publication of the Ridgway Record. (Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.)