Marco Werman: Alright, reality TV now. You've seen those reality TV shows about truckers hauling crazy things? Well, here's a real hauling triumph, or miracle if you want. A 200-year old church was taken apart in rural Nova Scotia and driven on a flat-bed truck, over 3000 miles, to its new home on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Pastor Jerel Keene is the man behind the project to move the All Saints Church from Nova Scotia to Louisiana. He was hoping to expand his congregation with a new, used, church.
Jerel Keene: The church that we had drawn up, the congregation was not financial ready or... And I don't believe were big enough at the time to build the church that we had drawn up. And so we began looking for a church in the Mississippi Delta that we could rejuvenate, and maybe that, you know, someone may have one that, you know, that was dilapidated, that we could redo. I began searching online, and Dan Regan, his website, Timberheart, had some churches that people had been building hubs out of and tearing down. And I thought, "Well, why not just get one of these churches that they were gonna tear down, that had already been decommissioned, and bring it down to us?" Because we like the architecture, we like the history, and we thought that it was a good fit for Louisiana and Abita Springs.
Werman: Yeah. Did you visit Nova Scotia before buying the church?
Keene: Yes sir. I flew up there and got to look at the church. The inside had been gutted, they had taken the floors and the pews, but the building itself was impressive. 27 feet from the floor to the crest, and I thought, "Man, this is better than I ever imagined."
Werman: Wow. I mean, it's a quaint church for sure. It sounds like it fits the, kind of, time era that you're trying to accommodate. But it's a small church. How large is your congregation?
Keene: Our congregation on Sundays is only about 78 people, but that's because that's all we can hold right now. And it is a small town, Abita Springs is a quaint town, there's only a little over 900 people in the town. So if we had a congregation of three or four hundred people, we'd have a large amount of the town.
Werman: Are you worried that maybe it'll turn into an attraction, and a lot of people are gonna want to come to church there?
Keene: Well, that's not a bad thing for Jesus.
Keene: You know, I mean, that's what I'm hoping, brother. You know, I was raised at night, but not last night. I mean, that was the idea in the beginning, was, "Hey, you know, if we're gonna do something, let's do it big."
Werman: So is Nova Scotia becoming a little less religious while Louisianaâ€™s becoming more religious?
Keene: Well, this is the south.
Keene: We're about Jesus down here for the most part.
Werman: Let me shift from spirituality, now, to rock-bottom numbers. What does a distressed church run for these days?
Keene: Well, no one got rich off of it. I believe the Angleton Church was just decommissioning this church because they couldn't take care of it. I don't remember exactly what we paid for it, because the lump sum involved taking the rest of the beams down, but it wasnâ€™t very much.
Werman: Right. I'd imagine transporting it from Nova Scotia to Louisiana cost more than the building itself.
Keene: Oh, no, absolutely not.
Werman: Oh really?
Keene: You know, one thing about our day and age, we can move anything for just about peanuts. It wasn't very much at all. It was like 9000 dollars to get it down here.
Werman: How many days did it take?
Keene: I believe it took three days, if I'm not mistaken. I thought it was gonna take five. They were snowed in up there and we wanted to get it out of there before the winter. The bad weather came, and I believe it took the man three days.
Werman: And Pastor Keene, when will it be reassembled, and when do you think you're gonna actually be able to hold a service in there?
Keene: We are looking to have it up before Resurrection Sunday of 2014, in April of this coming year.
Werman: Well, from Acadia to Cajun country, great to hear you've got a church.
Keene: Hey, yes sir, thank you.
Werman: Pastor Jerel Keene, with the Louisiana church on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Great to speak with you, thanks a lot.
Keene: Yes sir, thank you.