There’s no place for church building to go

MEEKER I There are plenty of churches in Meeker providing a variety of options for worship services every week. Need to find a new church home? It will take three months just to visit each one.
What happens when it’s not people looking for a church building to call home but a church building looking for a place to rest after a long and fruitful life?
The Meeker United Methodist Church has stood at the corner of Eighth and Park streets for more than 115 years. Through the years, the original frame building has been added to to accommodate the growth of the church, but the congregation has finally outgrown its quaint structure.
The church is nearing the completion of a building project that will provide a new sanctuary, administrative offices and ministry areas for the church. Unfortunately, the way the eruption of a new permanent tooth displaces a baby tooth, the old sanctuary will have to be moved or demolished before the church can occupy their new building.
“There’s a historic connection. I honor that and respect that as a pastor and someone who has grown up in rural settings,” said Johnny Arrington, pastor of the Meeker United Methodist Church for the last six years, speaking on behalf of the church. “It’s not the wood and bricks and nails that make the ministry, it’s the people. But that building has touched a lot of lives.”
As the new building project developed, “We began to have conversations about saving the original little white church building,” he said.
The church does not have the funding to move the old building, install a new foundation and do the needed restructuring.
The church has spoken with the cemetery district about the possibility of relocating the building to the cemetery for use as a community chapel. The district was not interested in the idea.
At the last meeting of the town board, Michele Morgan presented a plan to relocate the building to the old elementary school site downtown, but the board rejected the idea based on cost and the short frame of time involved.
“This is basically our last-ditch effort, quite honestly, to see if the town would be interested in moving the building to Ute Park,” Arrington said. “The reality is we’re running short of time. We’re looking at needing to have that thing moved — or demolished — in August.”
When the new recreation center was constructed, the historical society and the park and rec district relocated the old Wilber barn and another historic building to Ute Park, west of town, where the sheepdog trials are held.
“I’m not ready to give up, that’s why I’m here. If that (moving it) would be a possibility, let me know and I’ll start working on it,” Arrington said.
“You mentioned running out of time and not having enough funds, and unfortunately, I think that’s the two biggest hits we would take,” said Mayor Mandi Etheridge. “I’m sorry we couldn’t jump in and rescue it.”