The future use of the Union United Methodist Church building complex, which dates back to 1905, is in doubt.
All that is known for certain is the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, which oversees all Methodist churches in Oregon and Southern Idaho, will have the final say in what happens.
The Conference assumed ownership of the Union United Methodist Church building and its fellowship hall and parsonage in July after the Union United Methodist Church closed in June due to declining membership. Until July, the Union United Methodist Church complex had been owned by its congregation. Ownership, however, automatically reverted to the Conference after the church closed.
The Union United Methodist Church’s fellowship hall remains in use today as a community center where senior meals are served.
The church building is now no longer in use, but it did serve as the site of services for a Lutheran Church group through mid-September. The Lutheran Church group had rented the Union United Methodist Church building for about a year, according to LaVon Hall, a member of a local committee the Oregon-Idaho Conference which helps run the Union Methodist Church buildings.
The Oregon-Idaho Conference is considering a number of options including selling the church complex buildings or renting them, according to Rev. Dan Wilson-Fey, the Conference’s treasurer, who spoke during an open house at the Union church Friday.
A number of people, including Geneva Williams of Union, expressed fondness for the Union Methodist Church building and said they wanted it preserved.
“Like many people, I have such a passion for the church,” Williams said.
Patsy Lang, in a statement submitted to The Observer, also said she has great memories of attending services at the church. She noted that its fellowship hall provides a gathering place for seniors to have a weekly lunch, which is provided by volunteers.
“Services like these are priceless to those who would otherwise be left with few options for socialization. It would be a shame to see this beautiful old church sold into the hands of parties not interested in maintaining these valuable community services,” wrote Lang, a Union resident.
Senior meals were provided by the Union United Methodist Church in the church’s fellowship hall for years. When the church stopped operating, the Cove-Union-Powder Health Association took over the weekly meals. CUP has a verbal agreement with the Oregon-Idaho Conference for renting the fellowship hall and the church, an agreement CUP hopes to soon have finalized in writing.
CUP Treasurer Marty McKeon said that CUP is investigating the possibility of eventually using the fellowship hall for volunteer health clinics, such as those providing services such as blood pressure checks and toenail clipping. CUP is also interested in leasing the parsonage. McKeon said the parsonage could be used as a place for visiting health professionals to stay while putting on clinics.
McKeon also noted that CUP would like to be able to rent the church building to religious organizations in the community.
Wilson-Fey said the Oregon-Idaho Conference will give serious consideration to the wishes of the Union community members before making any decisions.
“We want what is in the best interest of the values of the community,” Wilson-Fey said.