SALINE COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The steeple of a nearly-century-old church is in disrepair, but one lifetime churchgoer is working to fix it in honor of Black History Month.
Mt. Pleasant Missionary First Baptist Church formed in 1880, and is believed by some of its current members to be the oldest originally all-black congregation in Saline County.
Charlotte Taborn has been attending since she was two years old.
"Coming here now is so sad, seeing what it has become," Taborn said.
Some walls of the roughly 95 year-old church are cracked, while some of the stained glass windows are broken outright; some even with plastic draped over them as shields from the elements.
Broken-off chunks of the steeple could be seen lying in the yard, presumably knocked off by the pigeons that seem to frequent the now-open structure on Monday, Feb 15.
Taborn said it had been a few years since the last time the congregation used the building for service, and it had been some time before that when there was regularly scheduled mass.
"I had six brothers and six sisters, and all of us called this church home." Taborn said. "Now, I have 7 grandkids and someday they'll have grandkids too I hope. I may be gone, but I'd like to see it in the community."
The congregation originally met in a cabin just outside of Harrisburg, until they moved to the current building in 1921.
Taborn said the church has touched a lot of people in Saline County and she would love to see it restored.
"It's an eyesore now." said DeDe Bryant, who grew up in the home next-door to the church. "It upsets me that it's in disrepair, and I hope they can get the money to make it the grandeur that it used to be."
Taborn says it's not yet known how much the renovation would cost, but the congregation's backup plan is to build a pole barn somewhere else in the city.
A pancake breakfast in honor of black history month was held by church members on Monday, the proceeds of which will benefit the effort.
If you'd like to help out, you can reach the church at 618-926-4916.