By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
WATERFORD – A Dec. 12 vote of the Waterford City Council has cleared the way for Divine Peace Metropolitan Community Church to begin final negotiations with the council to purchase their new home.
“We still have to … do the final work on our funding, have the congregation go through it, and have the congregation take a vote,” said Divine Peace Pastor Deborah Dysert, who added that she is certain her congregation will approve purchasing the building.
“If all goes well,” she added, “my goal would be that we could perhaps have Easter services there in April.”
The process of buying the building, which is located at the corner of Andersonville Road and Dixie Highway in Waterford, began when Divine Peace member [and Dysert’s partner] Ann Cox found out about the church through a story in The Oakland Press. A member of the Divine Peace Board of Directors, MaryAnn Northcote, worked with Dr. Lori Owen to put together the bid packet that had to be submitted to the city’s historical society by Dec. 1.
“It became a passion for her,” Dysert said of Northcote. “She would come to the building and pray about it. She led the team that put together the bid packet and fundraising and helping us all to grab hold of the vision.”
Dysert said that, though the building is a historic one, it is in good shape and was in use by the city as recently as June of this year.
“One of [the city council’s] primary concerns is that it remain a church – they may be able to get offers from other places, but they have a high value for maintaining the church,” Dysert said. “We do, too – it’s beautiful.”
Because Divine Peace is willing to maintain the old church, the congregation will be able to buy the building for $160,000 less than its appraised value, Dysert said.
Best of all, at the City Council meeting about bids on the church, “The GLBT issue was never raised,” Dysert said.
Dysert said that fundraising for the new church is now swinging into high gear.
“We would love to raise some funds if there’s anybody who would like us to make this dream come true, whether they are attending the church or not,” she said. “We are selling building tiles that people could do in memorial or in honor of a family member who’s living. We would greatly appreciate any support we could get in the community.”
Dysert is as excited about the location of the new building as she is about its beauty.
“One of the things that’s really exciting about this is the location – it’s a prime commercial location, and it’s even on a little lake,” she said, “and the location is going to be much easier for people to access.”
“It’ll be a fantastic site for holy unions – if you can’t feel validated having a ceremony in this church you can’t feel validated,” she added.