Merced Pastor Fights City Council

3/14/2008 Merced, CA "I know some of you have been wondering, and perhaps worrying, about what the vote of the city council on Monday night means for our building plans..."

Members of the Central Presbyterian Church in Merced received the message after the Merced City Council voted to move forward with plans to protect the church as a historic resource.

Church leaders want to tear down and rebuild the 92-year-old sanctuary because they say it's too small and a fire hazard. But others argue its architecture is irreplaceable. They worried the phone message contradicted the council's vote.

"I was a little taken aback, but not terribly surprised. I had a lot of questions because they just said they would be coming up with some information and a letter would be following," said Central Presbyterian Parishioner Linda Gilbreath. Many church members did receive a letter this week outlining plans to move forward with fundraising efforts for the renovation. A church spokesperson says both the phone message and the letter were simply meant to encourage parishioners and remind them that the council's vote was not final.

The next vote is set for April 7th.

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