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11/05/2014 – Historic Church in Mentone Seeks Donations

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Mentone, Ala. – A small church on top of Lookout Mountain in Mentone, Ala. finds itself facing a repair bill of $200,000. The active congregation of St. Joseph’s on-the-Mountain Episcopal Church wants to preserve the Mentone icon for worshipers and tourists and are seeking donations to help fund much needed renovation work in order to remain in operation.

St. Joseph’s on-the-Mountain Episcopal Church, whose origin is an 1870 log cabin, finds that its present building has structural issues. Problems at the historic church include an unsound foundation and holes and cracks in the walls allowing vermin and moisture to enter the property. It is estimated that repair bills could reach over $200,000.

The log cabin, around which St. Joseph’s has grown, was the home of the Simmie Sherman Vernon family and originally included a sleeping loft and a small lean-to kitchen. It was built in 1870 on the adjoining property and was moved to the present site in the 1880s where it served as a residential dwelling for several families over the years.

In 1965, the Rev. John Franklin Machen, a retired Episcopal priest, established a small chapel and held daily services in the log cabin. The small, unique church served its rapidly growing congregation until 1974 when construction began to build around the historic log cabin. Much of the work was done by volunteers and without financial help from the Diocese. Construction materials included wood from old barns and buildings from the surrounding area, many of which were of the same vintage as the log cabin.

Many of the furnishings and other appointments were given to St. Joseph’s by other churches, individuals and groups. The stained-glass window behind the altar was a gift from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scottsboro, Ala., where it had been in their original church building. It was hand painted and fired in France over 100 years ago. The heavy wooden front doors were from a 19th century building and the long, dark pews in the side areas, came from the Advent Episcopal Church in Tuskegee, Ala. It has been said that these were stained and hand-rubbed by George Washington Carver with a stain he made especially for these pews.

Located at the corner of Highway 117 and Scenic Highway in Mentone, St. Joseph’s is open 24 hours a day for locals and visitors to enter in for visitation, meditation or prayer. The church also serves those in need through its “Food Pantry” ministry. A grocery cart with non-perishable food is kept in the log room to provide food assistance for passersby in need of a meal. The “Food Pantry” is funded through the sale of St. Joseph’s notecards and individual donations.

The church, whose congregation includes 35 members, asks those who would like to help with repairs to send donations to:

St. Josephs on the Mountain
Attn: Church Renewal Fund
PO Box 161
Mentone, Ala. 35984

For more information, call 256.634.4476.


Written by 49 County News.Net

November 5, 2014 at 4:52 PM

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