MONTREAL - The St. James United Church enjoyed its glorious re-emergence in recent years after several buildings blocking its entrance were demolished.

But a fire at its third-floor drop-in centre last month put the future of the 125-year-old landmark in doubt.

Although church services have continued, there is far more damage lurking beneath the surface.

"I don't think we realized the extent to the damage," said Allen Fuller of the Church Restoration Committee. "We were very, very fortunate not to lose the building."

Water from the sprinkler system caused considerable damage and lead paint and asbestos were also uncovered.

That means that much of the beautiful structure remains off-grounds.

A choir and other groups have been exiled while the repairs take place.

Thankfully other groups have shown some kindness and offered some space to the groups displaced, but the church still needs more.

"It's been a very powerful response from the community," said Reverend Arlen Bonner. "I know people immediately gathered around the drop-in centre and provided financial resource to that group."

Isaac Gagnon is also hoping that they get the church back up and running, as he was a longtime visitor to its drop-in centre.

"It was a place of refuge for me during the day and especially in the winter it really played a major role in keeping me safe and secure," said Gagnon.