MATEWAN, W.Va. -- The Bible says that if you speak to your mountain, the mountain will move.
These days, the Rev. Ron Acord doesn't need a whole mountain to be moved -- but there's this huge boulder teetering over his church that he wouldn't mind being levitated elsewhere.
"I'd like God to move it from where it is now to the space between the church and the [currently unoccupied] Head Start building," Acord said.
That space, now occupied by a roped-off parking lot, would be the ideal landing zone for the huge sandstone boulder that is slowly separating from the steep hillside behind Matewan United Methodist Church.
"It's the height of the church and about 20 feet wide," Acord said of the boulder.
Last November, the boulder shed off a 3-feet-by-3-feet slab of rock, which bounced down the near-vertical slope and smashed into the handicapped ramp leading to the fellowship wing of the historic church, shearing off several railing posts. Luckily, no one was present at the time of that incident.
At the time, Acord wrote off the rock fall as a rare, once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. But later in the year, while putting up Christmas lights outside the church, a Matewan city police officer stopped by.
"He said a big rock was splitting away from the mountain and I needed to do something about it," Acord recalled.
The minister and another church member climbed up the hillside to examine and photograph the section of cliff in question and the sizeable gaps that were forming behind two sides of the huge rock chunk.
"The cracks have gotten bigger over the summer," said the pastor. "You can tell that it's slowly moving. After freezing and thawing this winter, it may end up coming down. It's big enough it could do some serious damage."
Acord and church trustees decided to close off the church's fellowship hall, with its kitchen and Sunday school rooms, while the recently remodeled main sanctuary -- the part of the church farthest away from the rock -- remains open. The fellowship wing parking lot, in which the rock that fell in November bounced a couple of times before hitting the handicapped ramp, was roped off and remains closed.
A few church members are avoiding services until the rock is no longer a threat.
"It kind of hurts to know that it's happening, but I don't blame people if they don't feel safe," Acord said. "No one knows for sure when the rock will come down or where it will hit."