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Published: Wednesday, 4/14/2004

Oregon church set for bids

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The home of the former Bethany United Methodist Church on Woodville Road in Oregon could become the home of another congregation today, or it could become a school, an assisted living facility, or even a Mexican restaurant.

Beth Rose Auction Co. will take bids on the building at 2072 Woodville Rd. at 6 p.m. The owner, Unity Methodist United Church, hopes to raise money for a new home of its own. Bethany has been a fixture on Woodville Road for over eight decades, originally built in 1917.

"It's an amazing building," Ms. Rose said. "There aren't that many churches for sale. We receive a lot of calls for commercial property but not very often for churches, but that's what makes this unique."

Pastor Larry Keeler said the church has been trying for over a year to sell the building after Bethany's congregation merged with the one at Unity in 2002. He said despite the efforts, Unity has not received what members considered serious bids.

He said El Camino Real restaurant offered to buy the church site for $100,000 and the church counter-offered with $205,000. The restaurant dropped out of the running.

"We're in a re-development process here," Mr. Keeler said. "We own three churches and at some time we'll want to sell all three. We tried for a year and after talking with our Realtors they suggested that we consider this route [auction]. These are beautiful, valuable buildings and we're not going to just give them away."

Mr. Keeler said he admitted the church is taking a risk with the absolute auction process, which means the church would

agree to sell to the highest bidder, regardless of the price. He said that process was suggested by the auctioneer to attract more serious bidders. There will be no minimum bids in the process today.

"The [sell] is important to us," Mr. Keeler said. "We're dipping our feet in the pool to get a reasonable offer."

Ms. Rose said the church is zoned C-2 commercial and has 6,600 square feet. It has a basement, 31-car parking lot and two bathrooms.

Mr. Keeler said he knows there are a couple of church congregations holding services in temporary locations that may bid on the building.

"We are going to sell it to the highest bidder," Mr. Keeler said. "We understand the highest bidder may not be a church. We would like to see the church be used for the ministry, but we plan to sell to the highest bidder."

Mr. Keeler said Unity United Methodist Church has not decided how to sell its other churches. He said those buildings were up for sale along with the Bethany facility, but didn't attract adequate offers. He said the church will decide sometime after today's bidding how to move forward to sell its other churches.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.



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