Finding sanctuary: Old building is new home for BV church
Berryville Christian Fellowship has begun a new chapter by resurrecting the historic stone church next to the Berryville Public Library.
Pastor Dale Price said the church purchased the building last year, after earlier deciding not to do so.
"We looked at the old Presbyterian Church about two years ago, and the building was too far gone," he said. "We figured that even if we did the renovations it would cost us at least $11,000 or $12,000. We just didn't have the money for it at the time."
Price said Ken Butler bought the building and did all the exterior renovations as well as fixing a few floors inside the building that had caved in. Butler called Berryville Christian Fellowship because he knew the congregation was planning to relocate, Price said, and offered to rent the building to them with an option to purchase it down the road.
"We moved in the building in February of last year and in November Ken told us he would sell it to us if we wanted to buy it. We got a loan and bought it," he said.
Price said Berryville Christian Fellowship was previously located at 205 West College Ave., in the church building behind Price Cutter. The rent was becoming too much for the church to afford, he said, so the congregation began looking into other options.
"We were already struggling at that point, and the rent on the building got raised by 100 percent," Price said. "So we were going to rent a small warehouse from Ken and convert it into a church."
Plans changed when the church next to the library became available, he said.
"We pretty much jumped on the opportunity because Ken offered to rent it to us for what we used to pay at the other place," Price said. "He said we had to fix up everything inside the building, do all the painting and everything like that. We didn't have a problem with any of that."
He said the church accepted Butler's offer and moved into its new home. Price said the church's central location in town and recognizability has helped bolster attendance.
"The location has been a big upgrade. Even though we were just over by Price Cutter before, it wasn't a place that people saw or recognized. Everybody knows about this one because we're right across the street from the courthouse," he said.
Price continued, "We have visitors almost every week now. We've done much better in the new building. There's just been an excitement about starting another chapter, so we've had new people come in."
He said the church may actually have a problem fitting everyone if its numbers keep growing.
"We're going to have to expand if everyone shows up like they have been," Price said. "This is the 21st Century, so we've been talking about putting in an overflow room and doing a video feed if we need to down the road."
By purchasing the historic church building, he said, Berryville Christian Fellowship was able to continue two legacies.
"I really would have hated to see this building just fall apart. Our church has been around about 21 years, and I've been the pastor for 20," Price said. "This move has allowed us and the building to continue serving the community."
He said he and the congregation try to help the community however they can.
"I go to the jail about four days each week and do pastoral visits and a church service hour on Saturday mornings," Price said. "We also support the free store in town. It's run by Linda and Wally Holm, who are members of this church. They're the only ones who have been here longer than me."
He said the church also sets up a prayer station outside the courthouse with New Testaments available.
"We try to each month. We catch people coming out of court and ask them if they need prayer," Price said. "If they say 'yes,' we pray with them and for them."
Berryville Christian Fellowship is a non-denominational church. Price and Steve Ross serve as co-pastors . Services are held at 10:30 a.m. Sundays and at 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Classes are available for children during the Sunday sermon. Communion is held the first Sunday of each month, and a potluck dinner is held the last Sunday of each month. There is also a prayer meeting at 6 p.m. on Mondays.
"If you don't already have a church home, we invite you to come experience the fellowship at our church," Price said.