WINCHESTER — First United Methodist Church plans to sell its longtime location at 308 N. Braddock St. in downtown Winchester and relocate to property it owns on Apple Pie Ridge Road in Frederick County.
On Oct. 15, the church council approved a resolution to sell the church facility, according to a church Facebook post. The nearly 100-year-old building will soon be listed for sale and sold as soon as reasonably possible.
“It has to do with our mission of making disciples, and we think we can be more effective out there,” the Rev. Will White of First United Methodist Church said about a 15-plus acre site the congregation purchased on Apple Pie Ridge Road about 20 years ago, where church picnics and other outdoor events are currently held.
White said the church believes it can grow its membership by leaving the downtown area.
About 100 people attend Sunday services at First United Methodist Church.
A 2016 building study done by the church cites three former downtown churches that experienced significant growth by relocating:
First Christian Church, which moved from Cork Street to Merrimans Lane
Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, which moved from Loudoun Street to Keating Drive
Winchester Church of God, which moved from Roosevelt Boulevard to North Frederick Pike (U.S. 522)
In addition to wanting to grow, the congregation is weary of maintaining the church’s aging building. More than 25% of the church budget is devoted to maintenance, according to information on the church website. Also, the building doesn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the site only has 11 parking spaces.
White said more information about the sale of the building and relocation will be available after a Nov. 14 church council meeting.
According to the city tax maps, the Braddock Street property has an assessed value of $2.556 million. It was constructed in 1921 to replace a church first erected on the site in 1873, according to “Images of the Past: A Photographic Review of Winchester and Frederick County.”
First United Methodist Church is one of about 10 historic churches in the downtown area with active congregations.