Former UCC Church Becomes Grace Community Church | News, Sports, Jobs
NEW ULM — While the United Church of Christ (UCC) closed its doors late last year, its doors won’t stay closed for long.
On Friday, the church building was sold to Grace Community Church, an Evangelical Free Church in New Ulm, for $1.
At the annual meeting last May, the UCC church board voted to close the church after the term of the church board president ended and no one could or wanted to be president. or vice-chairman of the board, said the Reverend Diane Hatman.
“Without a governing body for the church, we could no longer be a church,” Hatman said. “It was a unanimous decision to close the church and give the money we had to someone who really needed it and put it to good use.”
Hatman said 32 checks were issued to various charities.
“I thought it was a nice gesture, because we didn’t just use the money to barely stay alive,” Hatman added. “I thought the congregation had been very wise in their choice.”
Hatman said she was sorry she left.
“I love what I do, but I thought it was more honoring for God to choose this path, giving our wealth, including the building, to someone else,” she said.
Hatman said Grace Community Church pastor Phil Schenk called her about the church when he learned it was closing last year.
“I thought so, then the work of God could continue in this place”, Hatman said. “Now Grace Community Church will continue God’s work here in New Ulm.”
The church building at 301 S. Minnesota was built in 1973 on the site of the First Congregational Church.
“I get goosebumps when I talk about the church” Hatman said. “It’s sad that we’re not here, but the hand of God is bringing us to where we need to be.”
She plans to take a gap year in the Twin Cities.
“It’s exciting for us as a church,” said Pastor Schenk. “I came here in 2011. We started meeting as a church at the community center in New Ulm. We never had a church building to work from. God has just opened the door for us to enter into an establishment. It was a gift.”
Schenk said the former UCC church discovered in its records that it had a fund for the upkeep and repairs of the church.
“When they realized we were going to get the building, instead of shelling out the money some other way, they did some building upgrades for us,” Schenk said. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
Hatman said improvements to the church in preparation for the sale included making rest rooms accessible to people with disabilities, replacing floors, removing some walls and paving a parking lot to make the church more attractive.
Schenk said a new chimney was added to the church.
“It was a huge gift of generosity” Schenk said. “That’s another reason why we say God’s hand has been in all of this.”
Schenk said attendance at Grace Community Church was 130 to 140 on Sunday.
Grace Community Church’s first Sunday service is scheduled for 9 a.m., Sunday, February 6. Hatman needs to talk about the history of the church. A dedication service is scheduled for Sunday, February 20.
The office of Grace Community Church will also move to the new church.
For more information visit https://gracemn.org/