Insurance claim disputed after fire guts church

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by By MARK BOONE / NewsChannel 36 E-mail Mark:

WCNC.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 1 at 5:56 PM

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Insurance claim disputed after fire guts church

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nearly 15 months after flames ripped through the sanctuary and classrooms of Harbor Baptist Church, plywood covers windows and the building remains closed.

Engineers have determined the building on Old Concord Road is unsafe and must be razed, according to Dr. J.R. Farrington, the church's senior pastor.

"No one is willing to sign off on the structural stability of those facilities," Farrington told NewsChannel 36. "We've already been told that the city of Charlotte would never give us building permits to rebuild those facilities because no one is willing to certify them as safe, structurally sound."

Investigators ruled the May 24, 2008, fire an accident, sparked by an electrical problem in the church baptismal pool.

Farrington said the church's insurance provider, Brotherhood Mutual, has offered to settle the claim, but only for the cost of refurbishing the damaged building.

Demolishing the structure and the construction of a similar complex will likely cost more than $3.9 million, the limit on the church's insurance policy, Farrington said.

Representatives with the insurance company could not be reached Sunday for comment.

Worship services are now being held in the church offices and an adjacent gymnasium, which were unaffected by last year's fire.

The limited space has forced the church to cut the length of worship services and split the congregation into different service times.

"We have been seriously limited in our ability to minister to them because we no longer have the facilities to do that," Farrington said.

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