PITTSTON — The Pittston skyline might not be the same without the spires of its iconic churches.
Jan Lokuta certainly thinks so, and he hopes to help save one of the parts of that skyline — the cupola and spire of the United Methodist Church on Broad Street.
“For 12 years I’ve been leading church tours in the area,” he said. “One of the first churches I ever toured in 2006 was the United Methodist Church.”
Lokuta started working with the United Methodist Church and artist Sue Hand earlier this year to launch an effort to raise money to restore the cupola and steeple. He said he had the idea when Mary Therese Policare, whom he went to high school with, approached him at an event at the Pittston Memorial Library. He said she pointed out the steeple “jutting up out of the rather mundane urban landscape.”
“She said ‘we have to do something to help that church save that steeple,’” Lokuta said.
He started devising a fundraising campaign.
“We’re going to help the United Methodist Church come up with a way to create the funds,” he said. “What has happened in the course of the last few decades, the cupola has deteriorated which also threatens the structural integrity of the church itself. It also diminishes the beauty of the stained glass dome above the church.”
Lokuta asked local artist Sue Hand how much she’d charge for a piece of artwork to use in marketing and fundraising materials. To his surprise, Lokuta said Hand donated a painting of the Pittston churchs’ spires viewed from town.
“Her familiarity with the church itself and with the Pittston area inspired her to graciously donate a painting,” he said. “It not only features the cupola of United Methodist Church but also the steeple of First Presbyterian Church and St. John’s Roman Catholic church. I loved that.”
Lokuta plans to commission high-quality prints of Hand’s work to give as rewards to anyone who donates more than $100 to the restoration effort. Whoever donates the most, he said, will receive the original painting.
Lokuta said neither he nor Hand belong to the United Methodist Church, but still want to help it.
“Simply because of the beauty of these buildings and the significance of this community,” he said. “People are ready to rally around trying to help their neighbors.”
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