St. Andrews Center, a nonprofit, faith-based multicultural center in Highland Park, has reached an agreement on the transfer of ownership of the former church building it has occupied since 2004.
The Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, which has owned the 38,000-square-foot building since St. Andrews United Methodist Church closed in 2004, is in the process of transferring ownership to the ministry center board.
"We felt it extremely important to keep the presence of Christ there," said the Rev. Fred Dearing, superintendent of the denomination's Chattanooga District. "We did not want to abandon the community, the efforts and works of that board, the people who have [volunteered in the ministry] and the foundations who have invested a lot. That would have been a step backward."
John R. Tate, treasurer and statistician for the Holston Conference, said in essence no money will change hands in the transaction.
In order to give the $165,000 building to the St. Andrews Center board, the Chattanooga District will relinquish the 70 percent of funds it would get from its portion of the sale of four lots adjacent to the building and the sale of the church's former parsonage, he said.
The conference recently sold the four adjacent lots to the Highland Park Neighborhood Association for $40,000 and received authorization Friday to sell the Asbury Drive parsonage in Brainerd.
"It's a convoluted process," Tate said. "It's a way to satisfy the [denomination's] Book of Discipline, the Annual Conference [regulations] and the feelings of the Chattanooga District."
The Chattanooga District established the ministry to serve the Highland Park community in 2003, and St. Andrews Center became an independent nonprofit organization in 2007.
Michelle Hayes, newly named interim executive director, said the center hopes to expand its programming and develop new partnerships whose missions are closely aligned with the center's goals of providing educational, social, cultural, economic and spiritual growth opportunities in Highland Park.
Funding for the organization, she said, will continue to come through foundations, churches and individuals. To enhance that, she said, the center is planning to apply to have the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That designation, she said, will allow the center to qualify for grant funding to restore exterior parts of the building.
Dearing said there had been other bids for the building, but the denomination's bottom line was that ministry continue there.
Contact Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6497.