Brooklyn Community Group Rallies To Preserve Church
06/05/2008 09:00 AM
A local community group is trying to prevent developers from demolishing the United Methodist Church in Brooklyn.
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
Church officials sold the property along 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge to developers, and plan to build a smaller, more environmentally-friendly church on a parking lot behind the current building, along with housing.
They say the building is in poor shape and too expensive to maintain. They also say it does not make sense to keep a large church when the congregation's numbers are dwindling.
"About five or six years ago, the congregation came to the realization that really the Christian Church's business in the world is not to take care of buildings," said United Methodist Church Pastor Bob Emerick. "And what Jesus said, is that what's most important is to take care of people."
"One thing for sure is that this congregation cannot and will not accept using all of its resources just to maintain this beautiful old building. That's not why we are here," continued Emerick.
But members of the Bay Ridge Conservancy say the building should be saved because of its history and architecture. They add that the building should be spared, even if the church no longer wants to occupy it.
"I think if something lasts 109 years we should respect that," said Bay Ridge Conservancy Founder Victoria Hofmo. "The interior of the church is done in auditorium style, so everybody has equal sight lines. So it's a very democratic principle. And we think it's one of our most beautiful structures, and that's why we think it should be saved."
The building could be coming down within a few weeks if a deal can't be reached with another buyer.
Emerick says that the congregation is not opposed to the building staying, but a proper offer needs to be made.
"If there is a group in this community that finds a way financially to save this building and to give the congregation what it needs, we are certainly open to that,” said Emerick. “And our current buyer, we're in contract, if his needs would be satisfied, then I’m sure something can be done."
Neighbors told NY1 that they want the church to stay.
"I think it's disgraceful. I think they should fix it, do something with it. It's a beautiful church," said a resident.
"I think there's no need for condos over here because we have enough houses as it is," said another.
"I don't think they can take the church away, they've got to leave it as is," said a third.
"I feel the church has been here for a long time and it's like a landmark and I’d hate to see it go," said a fourth.
However, no one has stepped forward yet to save the church from demolition.