Vineyard Community Church, which was rebuffed by neighbors when it tried to buy the former Julia R. Ewan Elementary School, bought a new home Thursday.
Kevin Clark, lead pastor, confirmed that his 600-member church bought the former Aldersgate United Methodist Church at 1881 Eastland Parkway. Vineyard paid $650,000 for the building and 3 acres of land owned by St. Luke United Methodist Church.
The building is 15,000 square feet, slightly smaller than the 22,000 square foot space the church rents now on Winchester Road. "We will grow into this piece of property," Clark said.
He said there was "a lot of deferred maintenance" needed on the building, including a new heating and air conditioning system, a roof over one section and water drainage issues that will have to be addressed.
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Vineyard's goal is to have its first service in the new location on Christmas Eve. Renovation will be completed by the end of February.
The church has met with the neighborhood association and received a warm welcome. "They opened their arms to us," Clark said. "They hugged us. They said, 'We want you to be here.'"
On Halloween, church members will do a reverse trick or treat, going door to door throughout the neighborhood to hand out bags filled with Halloween candy. "We want to show them we're grateful they opened their arms and accepted us," Clark said.