In the 1980’s a church family, the Bassetts, gave their home to the Church. Located adjacent to the Sycamore building, it was thought at the time that it might serve as a parsonage or extra room for Sunday school classes. During the past 20 years, it has served as an apartment for a traveling Methodist minister and has served as a temporary Sunday school location. In 2012, after the house had been empty for several years, the youth group adopted the Bassett House as their primary space, painting and updating rooms to provide discipleship and fellowship opportunities.
However, the location, layout, and condition of the house make it less than ideal for this use. Parents of our youth have mentioned the concern of having the Youth across the street from the main campus and the issue of street crossing too. In addition the fact that it is located in the Downtown Decatur Historic District limit many of the other options we have explored for this property. For example, we can’t tear it down for any reason, since it’s in an Historic District. Through the years the church has maintained this property, our Trustees have spent thousands of dollars on insurance, gas, electric, water, yard and gutter maintenance, etc.
The building is in need of major repairs and in such the Trustees have investigated and determined it would cost over $200,000 to bring it up to code and updated safety levels (note: it is not unsafe as is but not up to today’s codes). This was also confirmed by an independent architect who works for one of the bidders for the property. Lilly Berrios and her firm, The Sizemore Group, have been working with Decatur First UMC in evaluating all of our spaces and also agreed it is in need of much repair and not the best solution for housing our Youth program. Currently, Decatur First UMC does not have a funding source to bring it up to code. This, combined with the layout issues, has led the Trustees to determine the best solution is to sell the property.
Selling the property will not only provide the church with funding to provide better space for our youth, but also to kickstart our implementation of our Future Story of Ministry. In accordance with the Book of Discipline, funds from the sale of property may only be used for capital expenses and not for current budget and operational expenses. While this is the case, that still leaves many opportunities for the use of these funds. Lilly Berrios has told the Trustees that the church has plenty of space but needs to look at how we use it. A Future Story Facility Use Team team will be formed to work with Lily and the Trustees to insure that the funds from this sale are used wisely and deliberately in line with the vision of our church and with priority given to youth and children’s spaces.
The Trustees had an independent appraisal done on the property. The Trustees brought this before the Administrative Council who approved the process to sell the property. In holding with the United Methodist Book of Discipline, the Trustees have contacted the Atlanta Decatur Oxford District Board of Trustees, who along with the District Superintendent, Rev. Sharma Lewis, approved the selling of the property.
We have also had an open Town Hall Meeting to allow feedback from you, the church, in which about fifty people attended. At that time there was a warm reception to the proposal.
We currently have two solid offers. Both are from neighbors of the property and would be ideal owners to sit next to our Preschool.
Throughout this process, the question has been continually asked if this action is in accordance with helping this church achieve its stated future goal of being a missional church. The development of a Future Story Facility Use Team to work alongside the trustees in determining the next steps insures that God’s vision for our church will be the guiding force as we move forward.