Acord has some first-hand knowledge about the dangers of falling rock. The Wyoming County native's 18-year career as a coal miner came to an end when he was injured in a rock fall.
He said church members have spoken with contractors, heavy equipment operators and state and county officials about possible solutions for removing the hazardous rock.
"There's been talk about putting steel rails and concrete barriers up," the pastor said, "and a church member has looked into bringing a crane to the site, but found out it would cost $60,000 just to get it here, which we don't have the finances for. All the plans seem to have fizzled out for one reason or another."
Building a road to access the rock in question could be dicey, since using heavy equipment to construct it could jar the boulder free of the hillside, he added.
Acord said he has looked into buying a few surplus school buses and using them to form a barricade between the church and the hillside behind it, but that idea also turned out to be prohibitively expensive and not a sure-fire solution.
He said the church's insurance carrier has informed him that damage from a rock fall wouldn't be covered, since it falls, ironically, under an "act of God" exclusion.
"They said we could sue the owner of the property it's on after the rock falls," Acord said, "but that's not the way we want to go."
As of now, no solution to the teetering boulder problem is on the horizon.
The church was founded in 1896, the year after Matewan incorporated. In 1933, the sanctuary section of the church, built of cut stone, was completed.
"I've heard that Italian stonemasons used rock quarried from Warm Hollow," a short distance from the church, Acord said.
The church owns an adjacent building formerly used for a Head Start program, and now used as storage space, and the former city hall-town jail building located just down the street. The name of J.B. Maynard, the man who preceded Matewan Massacre figure Sid Hatfield as the town's chief of police, is carved over the door to the building, along with the words "Lock-Up," "City Hall" and the building's construction year, 1908.
"This church has been through a lot," Acord said. "It's been through a fire, and it's had seven feet of water flowing through it in the '77 flood. Now, we've got a rock hanging over us, but I still feel we're blessed.
"We've got good people. We're doing the best we can, and we're making some progress. I just hope someone can come up with an idea that will help us get past this situation."Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.