Sold!

Well, it is official…..our beloved, historic church building has been sold and is now the home of the congregation of North Point Chapel. As you may know, if you have been following this blog or if you know our congregation, we moved out of our building at 19 N. Platt Street in Albion two years ago and put the building up for sale due to structural repairs that came with a cost far beyond our means (a renovation project performed more than 100 years ago removed critical struts that are now causing serious structural problems for the building). Since then, we have been worshiping in the Christ Episcopal Church building on Main St. in Albion and have been actively searching for a buyer for our building. It has been a very positive move for us and we have made the Christ Church our home – at least for the foreseeable future. The sale of our building is bittersweet, indeed…..while we are sad to see it go, we are happy to be relieved of the burden of its care and are very pleased to know it will continue to be a church to serve our community.

Check out the article in the Orleans Hub:  click here

Here are some photos taken of the process to commemorate this historic event:

November 17, 2016 – signing the documents accepting the offer of purchase:

Catherine Moore, Secretary of the Trustees, signing the Purchase Offer with Reid Cole, Trustee Chair, looking on

And, Reid signing with Cathy looking on

Reid Cole, Marie Follett, Leslee Lockwood, and Catherine Moore at the signing

April 21, 2017 – Final signatures at the Closing of the Sale – Orleans County Clerk’s Office:

Catherine Moore, Secretary of the Trustees, Sanford Church, Attorney for AFUMC, Erin Gromley, Attorney for North Point Chapel, and Mike Outten, Pastor of North Point Chapel reviewing and signing the closing documents

NOTE: Reid Cole also signed the documents, but did so in Sanford Church’s office the day prior

Erin Gromley, Mike Outten, Leslee Lockwood, Marie Follett, Cathy Moore, and Sandy Church

And, the torch has been passed:

North Point Chapel is now worshiping in their new building at 19 N. Platt St – they have renovated and are using the Sunday School wing for their services until repairs and restoration can be completed on the main part of the building. We’re told they have extensive plans to restore the building and look forward to filling it with people raising their voices in prayer and song!

I had to capture this – it was an emotional sight to see another church name on our wonderful building and the tulips we nurtured ready to bloom below!

We wish the congregation of North Point Chapel luck in their future and their new home! As for us…..we’re happy to have found such a welcoming home at Christ Church – we’d eventually like to pursue a building of our own, but for now, let’s take a deep breath and enjoy some time to reflect on the heavy weight that has been lifted from our shoulders.

Peace be with you…..

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Ash Wednesday – 2014

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Albion First United Methodist Church hosted an Ecumenical Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5th. It was a lovely service that was made extra special by the inclusion of pastors and members of four area churches worshiping together to begin the Lent season. Here are some photos I took during the service:

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Pastor Ed Devine, Albion First Baptist Church, and Pastor Jack Laskowski, Albion First United Methodist Church prepare to offer ashes to those who attended the service

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Pastor David Beach, Gaines Carlton Community Church, and Pastor Jon Rieley-Goddard, Gaines Congregational Church, also prepare to offer ashes to those who attended the service

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The four pastors – Pastor Jon, Pastor Ed, Pastor Jack, and Pastor David – join together for the Benediction

Tom Rivers, Editor of The Orleans Hub, was there and got some amazing photos for The Hub — check out his article by clicking here!

victory over sin and death. Whichever duration and regardless of the different ways of observing and celebrating the Lenten season among the different denominations, the biblical significance is the same and most begin the season by practicing the ritual of marking a cross of ashes on the foreheads of their followers on Ash Wednesday. The purpose of Lent is to prepare Christians for Holy Week, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Christ. Christians spend the 40 days leading up to the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday in quiet, thoughtful prayer and solemn reflection. This is a very important and spiritual season for Christians.

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And, the decision is…

On August 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm, members of the Albion First United Methodist Church gathered in the sanctuary for what Pastor Jack has called one of the most important meetings the church has held in the past 100 years. Our District Superintendent, Ted Anderson, lead the church conference that was called to determine the future of our church. The atmosphere in the room revealed the seriousness of the task at hand – the membership was keenly aware that there would be a lot of emotions, work, and sacrifices ahead no matter what the decision would be at the end of the evening – there was no easy answer or path paved with roses laid out for us. The meeting started with a discussion period to ensure everyone was clear on the options – a meeting the week before laid out all the information and many questions were asked and answered, but it was a lot to take in and the week of thoughtful reflection prior to the church conference surely raised more questions or need for clarification. Indeed, there was more questions and clarifying information offered. And then, the voting began….

It was decided that this decision was far too important for a simple majority. No, this must be an overwhelming decision by a super-majority to ensure just one vote didn’t tip the scale. And, so, in a single round of voting that resulted in greater than a super-majority vote, 36 of the 47 members present voted to abandon the building – turn it over to the Upper New York Annual Conference – and to remain together as a congregation to worship at another location. The thought of coming up with a million dollars to repair the building was just too overwhelming, although, there were some votes for that option. There was also a small number who voted to merge with another church. The option to discontinue as the Albion First United Methodist Church congregation and all go our separate ways was unthinkable – no one voted for that option or the other options on the table.

In the end, it was our desire to stay together and continue with our missions and ministries, no matter where we find to do that, that brought us to the path we have chosen. We determined that the best way to continue on as a congregation was to relieve ourselves of the burden that has been weighing heavily on our hearts and our pockets over the past several years and set our sights on the future.

While we know in our hearts that we made the right decision, it doesn’t lessen the emotions and sadness we feel about leaving our beautiful historic church behind. Many of us have long, happy memories tied to this building. I, for one, represent the FIFTH generation of my family on my Grandmother’s side that has a long history as part of the congregation in this building – I was baptized here, became a member – as many family members before me, and attended in the company of immediate and extended family as a child and off and on as a young adult. I was so happy to return as a member after moving back to Albion – it is “home” and I feel such peace and love here. There are many others in similar circumstances – members and non-members, alike – who have attended services in this building all their lives and have ancestors who worshipped here, as well. Many were baptized here, married here, raised their children here, mourned their loved ones here…….it is in our hearts and a part of our lives!

With the main decision now behind us, the work and additional decisions begin. Our first task is to meet with the Conference leaders to work out the details for turning the building over – the way we are planning to do it is new territory for all concerned, so some negotiation and discussion is needed to ensure a smooth transition. We plan to continue worshipping in our current building for some months, but at some point, we do need to decide where we will move to and when that move will take place – we will likely need interim facilities while we search for and probably renovate a more permanent home. And, of course, if circumstances should change – for whatever reason – in the coming months, we also have the option to rethink the decisions made and chart a different path. Lots and lots of work and decisions ahead.

But, we will do it all together and we will come out stronger as a result. After all, “WE” are the church and the building – albeit beautiful, historical, and forever tied to our hearts and emotions – is just a building. If we stick together and continue as a congregation, we can pave a new path for future generations to follow. And with the weight of our current building situation off our shoulders, we can focus more on doing God’s work and our service to our congregation and community. We will find a new home – together – and we will continue to grow and serve and worship – together!

To read the press coverage of our historic decision, click on the following links:

From The Batavia Daily News

From The Orleans Hub

Please pray for our church

Our church is facing an enormous and difficult decision this coming week…..the members will attend a church conference on Wednesday evening (August 21st) to decide the fate and future of Albion First United Methodist Church – the building and church family!!! The membership will vote on a number of options ranging from repairing the church at a cost of nearly a million dollars to demolishing a national historic site and true work of art. All the options seem impossible to bear. As Pastor Jack said during this morning’s service, “this is probably the most important meeting the church has had in the past 100 years”!

Follow this link to read an article published today on The Orleans Hub:

Orleans Hub Article

Over the past few years, the church Trustees and membership have been compiling, researching, and analyzing possible solutions to a problem caused by church members almost 100 years ago in 1914. At that time, the members added an addition to the church, reoriented it, and changed the flat ceiling in the sanctuary to a vaulted ceiling. To do that, they removed the bottom support beams for the trusses. Over the years, this has weakened the trusses and caused the walls to shift – the roof is too heavy for the walls to support it without the support beams on the trusses, therefore, we are finding that the structure is seriously at risk. In December, temporary shoring was installed – beams that go from the Fellowship Hall on the bottom floor up through the sanctuary to the roof. These beams are in place to ensure the roof is supported and the building is safe – our main objective was ensuring safety, which was achieved by the shoring. But, this is a temporary measure that was meant to give us time to determine a more permanent solution. Engineers and architects have assessed the situation and advised alternative solutions, such as rebuilding the trusses from below and restoring the flat ceiling at a cost of nearly $2 million or removing the roof and repairing the trusses from above at a cost of $850,000, as well as two other options that are the same as the last option, except for the type of roofing materials that would be used to finish the job, resulting in different overall costs.

This past Wednesday, the membership met and all the options that were compiled were presented and many tough questions were asked and answered. Now, this week we are faced with the vote to decide the fate of the church. Do we agree to work to raise close to $1 million to do the repairs (a $500,000 grant has been applied for, but we won’t know if we are approved for it until October and, if approved, it is a reimbursement grant, so we would still have to obtain a bridge loan or other means of paying for the work until the grant money is dispersed)? Do we demolish the building and rebuild on site or on another site (an option that has its own set of massive costs and problems)? Do we put it up for sale? Do we merge with another church or find another local site to continue worshiping as a congregation as we are now? These, among other questions and options, are what will be decided on this Wednesday evening.

Regardless of what is decided, it will mean a lot of hard work and dedication from our church family and others outside the church family. No matter what is decided, it will mean difficult changes to face and adjustments to be made by all. We go into this meeting with heavy hearts and a great sense of responsibility, as well as a strong desire to stay together as a church family and do what is in the best interest of all concerned, including the building.

Please pray that our members come to the right decision – for the church family and the building – whatever that decision is. After all, the church is the people – not the building – but we have a lot of emotions, memories, and love wrapped up in the building, as well as the people! Pray that we find a way to continue our ministries – services that are important to the community and that are depended upon by those who benefit from them.

May the Good Lord guide us in our decision and hold us close during this emotional and difficult week ahead. Amen.