Do You Know The Way to San Jose?

Apr 17, 2016 by Mike Bibb

After reviewing the March Rocky Times article of the on-going restoration of the little church in Cholla Bay, I decided to venture out to the location to see what has transpired since my last visit.

To my surprise, quite a lot.

After sitting vacant for many years, and in spite of several attempts to revive interest in the project, the San Jose sanctuary continued to deteriorate. Due to an absence of doors and windows, the interior had been overtaken by roosting birds and various critters – maybe even a few human vagabonds – and diminutive sand drifts covered the concrete floor.

Exterior wasn’t in much better condition; roof decking and eves badly weather beaten. Wooden trim cracking and splintering from years of sun exposure. Paint almost nonexistent. Excepting its resolute block construction and sturdily configured trusses, the place was a mess.

If the spirit of the Lord intended upon visiting this wannabe chapel, it’d take a few good Samaritans to rescue it first.

Apparently, Willie Fenderson and wife Janet of Pinetop, AZ, have been chosen as a couple of special constituents entrusted with this noble endeavor. They, and another angel known locally as “Cholla Charli,” as well as other good intentioned guardians, have taken on the task of breathing new life into this gasping patient.

Willie builds furniture, the kind used in churches. He fabricates pews and assorted items common to church facilities. Funds raised through his “gofundme.com” account helps pay material and transportation expenses from his Pinetop carpentry shop to Cholla Bay. The Cholla Bay Homeowners Association has also contributed to the endeavor.

With the recent installation of new doors, windows, interior repaint and a partial white exterior latex coating, the cinder block edifice is beginning to resemble its originally intended purpose – a house of worship for anyone wishing to enter.

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