Article on Church Renovation...

Father, son work to restore church


    For more than 40 years, Jim Stathopoulos and his father, John, have worked together to restore churches and give congregations special places to worship.
    About a month ago, the pair started renovations at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Wisconsin Rapids. The church, which has served its congregation for almost 60 years, had plaster falling off the walls, the Rev. James Altman said.
    "After many years of service, it was in immediate need of repairs," Altman said.
    The parish council and Altman put in more than 500 hours creating plans for the restoration. To do the work, they chose people with extensive experience, including Joel Skinner, owner of Church Interiors of Rochester, Minn., who has been in business since 1981, helping to restore more than 9,000 churches.
    Skinner subcontracted with Rock Island, Ill.-based Religious Arts. Its owner, Jim Stathopoulos, was 7 years old when he began learning how to paint and restore churches from his father, John, while growing up in Greece.
    When Jim Stathopoulos was young, his father would send him to school, only to find the boy sitting in the church where the father was working. The young boy would create excuses for why he wasn't in school.
    "One day, he'd say the school was closed; they next day, he'd say there was no teacher," John Stathopoulos said.
    At age 12, Jim Stathopoulos completed his first altar. In 1971, he moved to the United States and began restoring churches.