I want to give an update on the status of the Bethany Hills Baptist Church, which lies adjacent to our property on Leesville Road. As you may know, St. Francis bought BHBC in late 2013 for $2.4million. Our parish has a mortgage for $1.5million, and there is a balloon payment of $750,000 due in July of 2016. The Baptist community still has use of the building through July 2016.
In the fall of this past year, I began to have weekly meetings with a small group of staff to discuss plans for that building. In December, we learned through the diocese that there is a Vietnamese Catholic community in Raleigh that has been looking for a building to call “home” for some years now. That community, called Our Lady of La Vang, has been meeting for the past several years at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Raleigh. We invited representatives from that community to meet with us.
As a result of that initial meeting, we have found that the Our Lady of La Vang Catholic community is very serious about acquiring the Bethany Hills property. It’s a community with members all through the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, and sees this property as a central location for its members. They have been having discussions among their own members about raising the funds to purchase the building.
Where does this leave us? I believe that Our Lady of La Vang is very serious and intent about finding a home. They have been described as living a “nomadic” existence over these past several years. The possibility of their taking on the BHBC property has only emerged over these past few months and I have found that their story is compelling – a Catholic community with a memory of recent persecution in their native country, looking for a place to settle.
If this does happen, Our Lady of La Vang would take responsibility for the property and full financial responsibility. We would also see the possibility of our own parish developing a relationship with them and finding ways to collaborate with them. All of this has developed rapidly over the past several weeks. The pastoral council, finance council, and staff have been informed of how this has developed, and I will keep the wider parish informed as things develop.
As always, thank you and blessings on your week!