“That a church may meet here where the weary and heavy laden shall find inner peace that the world can neither give nor take away … We break this ground today.”
Members of North Fork United Methodist Church said these words Monday evening during a groundbreaking ceremony for the new centrally located church building.
Pastor Tom MacLeod led the ceremony at the now-empty lot on the corner of Horton Lane and Route 48 in Southold. He placed a cross where the altar will stand and led prayers to bless the property.
North Fork Methodists have been attending services at the former Cutchogue United Methodist Church building, but will relocate to the new building once it is ready.
“We’ve sold three of the four [Methodist] churches on the North Fork, with the idea that we would build a new centrally located church to relieve the congregation of caring for older buildings,” Pastor MacLeod said. “In their second uses now, they are having some great rebirths.”
In March 2016, Orient United Methodist Church voted to merge with North Fork United Methodist Church in Cutchogue, which had already absorbed separate congregations from churches in Southold, Cutchogue and Greenport.
The landmarked 1836 Orient building has been sold to John Wesley Village LLC of Riverhead and will serve as a chapel. The Southold church building was converted into the Southold Opera in November 2016 and the Greenport church property was sold to a developer and has been subdivided into three residential lots. Pastor MacLeod, tasked with merging local Methodist churches, has been on the North Fork for almost four years. The consolidated North Fork Methodist Church was founded in 2014 and its Horton Lane property was bought in May 2015, so the groundbreaking has been three years in the making.
“The church is a listening place, we’re slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen,” Pastor MacLeod said during Monday’s ceremony. “The responsibility and the privilege rest upon us to cause a building to rise here that shall be a house of this people of God, a place devoted to worship of almighty God and to the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Congregants took turns “breaking ground” with a shovel to officially start construction and bless the new property.
Architects David and Dawn Harvey of Sag Harbor have designed the building with doors that open onto Horton Lane. Seifert Construction of Mattituck will be the contractor for the project.
The new church was described as a federal-style building in a light gray color with white trim and traditional columns.
“Inside, it’s going to be a clean, transitional building, very minimalistic, with clean lines,” Mr. Harvey said. “It’s more about space and light.”
He also said it will be very energy efficient, with solar panels and state-of-the-art boiler and heating systems. It is modeled after the new Methodist church in Sag Harbor, also designed by the Harveys for Pastor MacLeod about five years ago.
“The Methodist church is kind of spearheading this idea of selling older buildings that aren’t very efficient and consolidating two or three areas into one new building,” Mr. Harvey said. “They are new, environmentally friendly and low-maintenance. It’s a trend we’ll be starting to see across the country.”
Top photo caption: A group of about 30 parishioners gathered to celebrate North Fork United Methodist Church’s groundbreaking Monday evening. (Credit: Rachel Siford)