Plans for the Brethren Missionary Herald Company (BMH), the parent organization of GraceConnect and BMH Books, to sell their headquarters building to the Winona Lake (Ind.) Grace Brethren Church (WLGBC) took another step forward Friday afternoon as representatives of the church and BMH signed a purchase agreement.
Tim Sprankle, chair of the BMH board of directors and Bruce Barlow, lead pastor of WLGBC, signed the document as Liz Cutler Gates, BMH executive director, and Vickie Scantlen, church administer, looked on.
The agreement paves the way for closing and transfer of property in the 45 days.
The two organizations have been in discussion about the possible sale since early 2015 when it became apparent that BMH would not need to own property from which to operate and WLGBC, located next door, needed space for growing ministries.
The finalization of the agreement is the result of:
- 16 months of discussion and due diligence by both ministries and their leadership;
- a four month feasibility study resulting in a facilities master plan for the church;
- the vote of the church family to purchase and utilize the building for its ministries; and
- approval by the BMH board.
Closing of the transaction will happen sometime in the next 45 days.
“It’s been apparent that this is God’s leading,” Gates said. “It will allow us to focus more effectively on our mission of helping the people and churches of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches build bridges of communication for ministry, encouragement, and prayer, while providing additional space for the church as it grows.”
Proceeds from the sale will be invested and should provide BMH similar income as if the building was retained and space rented to tenants.
The two organizations worked to reach a win-win solution. The church will pay the appraised value of $425,000 and will provide BMH/GraceConnect with office space at no additional charge for at least five years. Offices for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC), also currently housed in the building, will continue to share space with BMH.
The church will use the remainder of the building primarily for Kids Connection ministries to children from pre-K through 6th grade.
The BMH building, located at 1104 Kings Highway, was constructed in the mid-1950s. In addition to housing offices, warehouse space, and the Herald Bookstore, it served as the headquarters for a number of FGBC organizations and was a de facto “denominational” headquarters. In recent years, it has been the site of Tree of Life Bookstore, the campus bookstore for Grace College. The warehouse space was vacated in 2015 as BMH Books product was transferred to a warehouse near Grand Rapids, Mich., for storage and order fulfillment. The FGBC Archives, currently housed in the BMH Building, will be relocated to the campus of Grace College.