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National Cathedral on post-earthquake comeback trail

National Cathedral on post-earthquake comeback trail

Brett Zongker of the Associated Press has written an in-depth story about the plight of Washington National Cathedral post-earthquake. The story contains two pieces of welcome news:

* The National Trust for Historic Preservation has taken up the cathedral’s cause.

* Cathedral officials have backed away from an opportunity to seek millions of dollars in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Accepting money from FEMA would have required the cathedral to state that it was not primarily a religious institution.

Zongker writes:

An earthquake in August severely damaged its intricate stone work and architecture, with repair costs estimated at $20 million. Aside from that damage, the structure faces $30 million in preexisting preservation needs.

Even before the earthquake, a financial crisis forced the cathedral to slash its operating budget from $27 million to as little as $13 million in recent years and cut paid staff from 170 full-time employees to 70. The church relies heavily on donations to fund its operations.

Still, cathedral officials say the financial problems won’t close the church. The building is stable, and repairs will be made as funds are available.

“It may take five years. It may take 10 years. It might take 20 years. But we will do this, with God’s help,” said Andrew Hullinger, senior director of finance and administration.


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