The Oysterponds Historical Society and the Orient Association were left in the lurch in August when the members of Orient United Methodist Church chose another buyer.
John Wesley Village LLC, based in Riverhead, decided to purchase the landmarked 1836 church.
The Orient Association and the historical society had planned to buy the building and property, a historic site, because they felt it should be in the hands of an organization with its best interests in mind. Both groups expressed disappointment upon learning that the church had chosen a private buyer instead, feeling that might not fully coordinate with or complement the work of other community groups.
Jim Moore, CEO of John Wesley Village LLC, said his only intention is preserving the building and pledged to work with both organizations to preserve it and support the community.
The historical society, with assistance from the Orient Association had planned to borrow from the Peconic Land Trust’s revolving fund to help pay for the purchase. The organizations would then have the next three years to raise enough money to pay for the church.
Despite promises and words of reassurance from the Rev. Tom MacLeod, pastor of North Fork United Methodist Church, OHS and the Orient Association remained wary about the church’s future. They cited the lack of a solid succession plan to ensure its long-term preservation and maintenance, which their organizations could provide.
The pastor said the church chose to go with John Wesley Village because it was a simpler deal. He added that the building will likely be used for weddings and funerals, in keeping with its historic use, and as additional exhibit space for the historical society.
File photo credit: Barbaraellen Koch