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The former First Christian Church in downtown Decatur was sold to a Hispanic ministry.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
The former First Christian Church in downtown Decatur was sold to a Hispanic ministry.

Central Baptist sells downtown stone church

By Melanie B. Smith
msmith@decaturdaily.com 340-2468

Central Baptist Church has sold the former First Christian Church building in downtown Decatur to a Hispanic congregation, said Central's pastor, the Rev. Rob Jackson.

He said the North Alabama Hispanic Mission, associated with the Cumberland Presbyterians, bought the 14,119-square-foot stone and brick building at 407 E. Moulton St.

The congregation is known as Comunidad Cristiana Casa de Oracion, and the pastor is the Rev. Jorge Pereira.

Meanwhile, a potential anonymous donor backed out of buying the Mutual Savings property and giving it to Central, Jackson said. But he said Central still plans to buy the site on U.S. 31 South.

Central plans to build a 1,200-seat sanctuary on the 29-acre site, renovate the insurance building into an education facility and relocate. Roger Anders, business and facilities manager, said he hopes for a contract to purchase the Mutual Savings property in less than 30 days.

More sales

Jackson said Central accepted the Hispanic congregation's offer, but wouldn't reveal the amount. He said Central is happy to "partner" with the church so it can have a building.

"They are out there reaching people for Jesus," Anders said.

Pereira said the congregation has an attendance of about 80. It has been renting the former Christ's Mission church building at 411 Sherman St. S.E.

The deal is the latest in a series of property sales for Central, according to Jackson and Anders.

House sold last week

Last week, the church sold a house at 439 Johnston St. S.E. to John Kilgro. He will move his insurance agency there, Anders said.

Sales completed last year include a house at 425 E. Moulton St. to the Child Advocacy Center and another at 433 Johnston St. to Burney and Burney for a law office.

L.B. Wright and Son Inc. bought the former Liberty National building at 410 Johnston St. from Central and is constructing office and retail units beside it. Tenants will include a day spa and the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, Steve Wright said.

Another contract is tentative for 431 Johnston St., Anders said. The church is to vote Sunday on the sale. Central has allowed Child Evangelism Fellowship to use the building recently for its office, Anders said.

"It's been a God thing. God's just been selling every single piece of this property," Jackson said.

Donor backs out

Jackson said the potential donor's gift of the Mutual Savings site was contingent on the property being appraised for a certain amount, but the appraisal did not reach that figure.

The pastor said Central's main buildings on Fourth Avenue and Grant Street are not yet for sale, but three people have looked at them. The 80,000-square-foot facility includes a sanctuary that seats 550.

Jackson said it's uncertain what the future is for Central's Hispanic ministry, which has used the old First Christian building. He said several churches in the Morgan Baptist Association may jointly sponsor the work.

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