RED BANK: STEEPLE STABLE, WEDDING’S ON

tower hill 110713Quick work by contractors and inspectors led to the reopening of the church Friday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The landmark First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill in Red Bank was back to doing the Lord’s work Friday morning following a 10-day shutdown triggered by a dicey steeple.

That means Sunday services will be held, dozens of students will return to their school and – most pressing – a wedding will go off as planned Friday evening.

The bride-and-groom-to-be, whose names were not disclosed, held a rehearsal Thursday night at their fallback sanctuary, the United Methodist Church on Broad Street, “but tonight they’ll be having their wedding here,” Tower Hill spokeswoman Karen Gyimesi tells redbankgreen.

A cracked timber in the steeple, discovered after a leak above the choir loft, triggered an immediate shutdown of the church and the adjoining Tower Hill School on October 29. Church and borough officials feared the 70-foot-tall steeple might collapse.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, steel that was to be used to shore up the timber still had not arrived. But by late Thursday night, the repair work was done, and borough inspectors, working extra hours, gave it their blessing, Gyimesi said.

“We are good to go,” she said, with the wedding, regular services and a school reopening on Monday, she said.

Alas, there will be no pealing of bells for the newlyweds. But the church’s regular schedule of bell-ringing is expected to resume shortly, Gyimesi said.

The church also hosts numerous community events and group meetings each month, some of which had to find new temporary homes during the shutdown.