LUTHER — The United Methodist Church of Luther is looking for public support to help replace its church steeple which was discovered to be leaning at an angle and getting worse.

The 133-year-old church is a well-known highlight of downtown Luther and its congregation is very active in the Lake County community. The steeple will need to be replaced before it causes catastrophic damage to the building.

The problem was discovered in November while construction on the roof was taking place. While examining the roof it was found that much of the wood supporting the steeple was rotted.

"When we were re-roofing the church roof, we discovered several boards were rotted and the steeple was leaning," explained Karen Neiger, the congregation's lay leader. "The engineer who looked at it said we need to replace the whole steeple or it could collapse and could take a good deal of the church with it."

The entire steeple will need to be rebuilt as well as well as part of the front porch and entrance way which are directly below the steeple. The whole project is expected to cost $44,000. The damage was caused by weather and time, since there has been no structural work done on the steeple since its construction in 1883.

"We were fortunate to get everything we needed for the roof; and $44,000 is a lot but, we've had a lot of people already come forward and help," said Neiger. "One friend of mine came in with her granddaughter a day after we put up the Go Fund Me page to make a contribution and the little girl made a $28 donation she made from selling brownies.

Less than $2,000 have been raised so far for the project, but it is complicated by the fact that the congregation just recently had to raise $26,000 for the initial roof work.

The congregation has applied for a bank loan and it is pending. To cover the rest of the cost there also is a fund at the Lake Osceola State Bank called the "Save the Steeple Fund," and a Go Fund Me account has been set up online so people can contribute to the project.

Additionally, a spaghetti dinner is being planned for May 14 at the Luther Lions Club wherein everyone who has donated money to the steeple repair efforts will be invited.

"We have our Monday School program, our ice cream social, the Thanksgiving dinner; we are very community oriented and I think a lot of people in the area see that and have responded with kindness," remarked Neiger. "We are caretakers of this building. It's a hallmark of Luther and has been for 133 years and we have a responsibility to care for it. People who visit the community love coming to our church and it really has been a Godsend for many people."