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Northfield Center -- With the Epiphany Lutheran Church building up for sale, the congregation's future is unclear, as is future of the senior citizens center that operates there on Wednesdays.
The Rev. Christian Just, the church pastor, said the mortgage holder has put the building up for sale.
"We don't know what our plans will be until we know what a buyer wants to do," he said Dec. 12.
The mortgage holder, the Missouri-based Lutheran Church Extension Fund, "assigned the job of selling to a local Howard Hanna" Realtor, according to the December church bulletin.
"Already, we have had some viewing of the building," the bulletin read. "We [will] wait to see if any reasonable offer will be tendered."
Just said the best-case scenario "is for them to use the newer part of the church and let us have the older part [where the church services take place]. That would be our hope."
He said the worst-case scenario is that "we vacate the premises and the decision is made not to continue as a church."
Another option is "to try to find facilities elsewhere."
Also, if a buyer wants to use the property "in a radically different way, they will likely need to secure a zoning variance," according to the church bulletin, which noted the current church property is zoned R-1 for single-family residences.
The church is on a triangular shaped, 6.7-acre lot with frontage on Route 8 and Valley View Road. According to Summit County Fiscal Office records, the lot is worth around $460,000 and the 35,000-square-foot building (built in 1960) is appraised at just over $1.35 million for a total value of over $1.8 million.
The situation is just as uncertain for the senior center.
If the senior center ceases to exist at the church, "We'll probably look at some of the area churches and see if something can be arranged," Northfield Center Township Trustee Paul Buescher said. "But everything is preliminary right now. There are a lot of ifs, buts and maybes."
The senior center is open on Wednesdays. The cost is split three ways between Northfield Center Township, Sagamore Hills Township and Northfield Village. Also, Zumba classes take place there three days a week. Both are held in the new portion of the church.
Just said the for-sale sign went up about one month ago at the church, 10503 Valley View Road in Northfield Center.
"We've been in financial trouble since Summa left us in about 2009," he said, referring to room in the church the congregation had leased to the health care provider for an adult daycare facility.
"We were wallowing for a while. Then a child daycare center moved in, but they fell behind financially, so we had to close that off. Then the mortgage holder said we had to put the building up for sale."
Just said things are currently in "a holding pattern until we have something definite that we can take actions on or make a decision on what is best for the congregation. At this point, we don't know what is going to be available."
Epiphany Lutheran Church was founded in 1956 as an outreach ministry in the Nordonia Hills area.
"We're trying to keep people apprised of what we know, but people are a little anxious," Just said. "Not knowing is worse than knowing.
"I am trying not to be nerve wracked," he added. "We don't know what the Lord has in mind. Whatever happens is in His hands, and we are trying to be as faithful to that as we can be."
Mike Lesko: 330-541-9432