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Sterling Township to buy church

Former Abiding Word building will be home for youth group

STERLING – Sterling Township has agreed to buy a downtown building to provide a permanent home for a youth club. The township board this week voted to pay $190,000 for the former Abiding Word Church building at 312 E. Fourth St.

At one point, the building was listed for $238,000, according to the township.

The Abiding Word building went into foreclosure a few months ago. It was part of a procedure to which the church consented, its pastor, the Rev. Scott Porter, said in June. 

Township Supervisor Matt Howze said the township needs to get the purchase contract approved with the bank, adding that “[$190,000] is the number that the bank has agreed to dance with.”

The church bought the property for $221,500, Porter said. In 2008, Abiding Word built a new 18,000-square-foot building at 806 E. Lynn Blvd.

The township already was leasing the Fourth Street building for $1,000 a month to house Giving Power to Adolescents, a club for ninth- to 12th-graders. The group, now in its fourth year, has about 50 to 55 members, Howze said.

It is considered a center for youth, not a youth or teen center, because it’s not a place solely for events and activities, but for teens to learn about life skills such as negotiating, budgeting, entrepreneurship and responsibility, Howze said.

The club has been paying for the utilities, which amount to $400 to $500 a month.

“I’m just grateful for Abiding Word’s efforts in helping make this happen. It’s been a wonderful partnership,” Howze said.

Earlier this year, Howze said the township could spend no more than $200,000 for the building. The township has surpluses of well over $200,000, money that comes from property taxes.

The township board voted 4-1 for the purchase.

Township Trustee Elizabeth Hall supported it.

“They [GPA] are doing a good job. They need a shot in the arm,” Hall said. “If we can help them, we should. I think we have to take a chance once in a while.”

Hall added that the building could be used for all kinds of activities, benefitting the entire community.

“The kids have done wonders with the building. They have painted it all on the inside and cleaned it up,” she said.

Trustee Bill McGinn voted against buying the building. In the spring, he opposed going into negotiations. At the time, he said he preferred leasing the building for the time being, making sure the teen club is here to stay and financially sound.

“Sterling Township shouldn’t take this on its own. It’s a community project. The township should seek the city’s input on this,” McGinn said Thursday. “We shouldn’t be in the real estate business right now.”

He added the township could have gotten a better price because the building had been on the market for 2 or 3 years.

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