United Methodist of Dickinson to sell church to American Bank Center
Dickinson’s Methodists may soon be building a new home and tearing down their old one.
A proposed long-term sale of the United Methodist Church building to neighboring American Bank Center in downtown Dickinson is underway and will likely begin by the end of the year.
United Methodist Pastor Dick Rinearson said the bank would take possession of the property on Aug. 1, 2017, granting the congregation a transitional period to move forward with its plans of establishing a new church facility on the northwest side of Dickinson, across 21st Street West from the construction site of the new Dickinson Public Schools middle school.
Part of the planned agreement would see United Methodist carrying out the demolition of its old church -- after salvaging items of interest for the new facility, such as the large stained glass windows in the building’s sanctuary -- and bringing the lot to grade.
United Methodist Pastor Dick Rinearson said that course of action would grant the church full control over the salvage effort and to ensure that the items it wishes to keep make it out in one piece.
Another is what Rinearson said could be called a “matter of courtesy” to the new owners.
“We don’t want you to have the label of, ‘You’re the ones that tore down our church,’” he explained. “This is our decision and we’re taking ownership of it.”
American Bank Center Regional President Bruce Dolezal said the church had approached to ask if the bank would be interested to purchase its lot, which is adjacent to property already owned by American Bank Center.
“I’m sure if the church thought there was value in restoring the building and if it was feasible, I’m sure that’s what they’d be doing,” Dolezal said. “... A decision had to be made, and because we’re right next door, they asked ‘Hey, are you interested?’ and we said we were.”
The plan for the space is to build an American Bank Center office within the next two to three years to house all three of the bank’s entities under one roof, he said.
While the contract for the deal isn’t finalized, Dolezal said the bank is committed to the sale and will make an initial transfer of “good faith, earnest money” by year-end.
Sale considered after renovation ruled out
Rinearson, who’s been pastor at United Methodist for about 18 months, said the serious discussions on expanding the church’s space began in 2010 with previous Pastor Scott McKirdy.
“The initial plan was renovation, adding a major addition to the building that would go out to the south, into our parking lot,” Rinearson said. “But the conclusion was it would take too much of our parking lot and, actually, in the end our (regional conference) said it was not a workable plan.”
The pastor said addressing long-standing structural issues in the old wing of the church building, built in 1917 and expanded with an addition in the 1970s, would have added millions of dollars to the cost of the expansion project.
The problems he listed with the older part of the church were largely due to the building’s largely original state -- complete with wiring, plumbing, asbestos and even stairs from 1917.
Additionally, Rinearson said the building’s wood frame is “rotting from the inside out,” and that its foundation is seriously deteriorated.
The sanctuary, partially walled by large stained-glass windows, is still picturesque, he added, but is equally affected by structural deficiencies.
“I compare it to when you go into somebody’s house, and you just go for a visit and you walk into the living room and the living room is beautiful -- that’s the sanctuary,” Rinearson said. “But what you don’t know as a visitor, or if you’re just going there occasionally, is that the plumbing leaks, the electricity is funky, the floors are rotting, things are falling apart all around it and the roof is leaking.”
With the option of a sale to American Bank Center, the congregation of United Methodist took a secret ballot vote last Sunday at the start of the regular worship service to determine the future of the church.
Congregants voted both in favor of purchasing up to six acres of land for the new building, and to sell the old facility by a margin of 71-2.
While plans for the new church have yet to be drawn up, Rinearson said the current goal is for a two- to three-stage build, with stage one consisting of a multi-use worship hall, a fellowship space with classrooms and an office.
If things unfold as planned, Rinearson said, United Methodist will likely break ground for the new church somewhere in the late spring of 2017 -- around the same time as the exit from and demolition of the old church.
He said the congregation could spend a year and a half without a building and would have to rely on rental space during that time.
Todd O’Donnell, a congregant and the head of trustees at United Methodist, is tasked with handling grounds and maintenance issues at the church. He said he believed the vote to move the church was “necessary” and described the outcome as “resoundingly positive.”
“We’ve done a lot of the stuff that we needed to do, all the maintenance and upkeep on the church,” he said “but we knew the building itself had a for lack of a better term, a shelf-life.”
While O’Donnell wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of the period of time when the church would lack its own home, he said he thought it was a “good step forward.”
“It’s something that we need to do,” he said, adding that the church was “happy to do it, to expand for what we want to get done with the church.”