The decision by the congregation of Faith Lutheran Church to sell the property to Prairie Village for a future park was sparked by declining membership and the forthcoming loss of a key child care tenant.
“This isn’t easy,” said Bob Lindeblad, the church’s president. “When you’ve been a congregation for 60 years, absolutely this is not easy to go through. However, we voted this is the process to go through and we will see where it takes us.”
In late December, the Prairie Village City Council voted to move ahead on a purchase agreement for the nearly three acres at 4805 W. 67th St. The city agreed to pay $1.1 million for the property, pending legal and environmental review.
If all goes as planned, the city would take possession of the land in October, and the site would be used for a future park.
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Lindeblad said the church was founded in 1950, opened its first building on the property in 1953, and has expanded to 35,000 square feet through a series of improvements.
But he said the congregation has shrunk and gotten older over the last decade, averaging about 50 or 60 members on Sundays.
Lindeblad said the congregation decided to sell the property after receiving word that the Kansas City Autism Training Center, which leases classroom space in the church, planned to leave in 2017.
Since then, he said, several groups have expressed interest in the property, but Prairie Village’s offer was considered the best.
Lindeblad said the church can’t turn over the property until the autism center leaves, which he expects will be this summer.
He said church members are still discussing whether and how to remain connected once the church is gone and plan to give much of the proceeds from the sale of the church and church property, such as the pipe organ and stained glass windows, to charities.
As part of the purchase agreement, the city would spend up to $10,000 for a commemorative plaque or other monument to recognize the history of the church property.
“They’re very pleased with the offer from the city and like the use of the legacy of a city park where the church was,” Lindeblad said.