A small crowd gathered at the construction site of the new North Fork United Methodist Church on the corner of Horton’s Lane and Route 48 in Southold early Thursday morning. The crowd, a dedicated group of parishioners, were there to witness history as the new steeple was affixed atop the church.
The steeple was constructed in North Carolina and weighs 175 pounds, said the Rev. Tom MacLeod. The peak of the steeple attached to the church stands 50 feet high.
“It’s a calling card in a sense,” he said. “It shows that the building we’re building is a Christian house of worship.”
About a dozen people attended and prayed together at the site after the steeple was placed. They also got a tour inside the new church.
“It’s a blessing from God that we’re getting this new building,” said Debbie Boschetti of Laurel. “We want to see the steeple reach up so everyone in the neighborhood knows we’re here and welcoming.”
Construction, done by Seifert Construction, on the new church began in April and is expected to be completed by the new year. However, the parish will then need to get a certificate of occupancy and other requirements.
The hope is to begin using the building at Easter 2019.
The new building is the same size as the former Cutchogue United Methodist Church where parishioners currently worship, the Rev. MacLeod said. The only difference is the new space won’t have a basement, stairs, ramps or elevators — making it completely accessible for those in wheelchairs or with other disabilities.
The Rev. MacLeod has been with North Fork United Methodist Church for five years and said he was brought on to oversee the project of merging the Methodist churches in Cutchogue, Southold, Greenport and Orient.
“The whole goal is to merge these four churches to be centrally located to the town,” he said. “To be in a building that’s more or less energy efficient, it doesn’t require a lot of our time or energy to maintain, therefore it gives us the opportunity to do more ministry for the people in this town. It frees up the resources of the people. It frees the church up, basically.”
Three of the four buildings have been sold.
The 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, in March 2016.
The landmarked 1836 Orient building was 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.
The consolidated North Fork Methodist Church was founded in 2014 and its Horton Lane property was bought in May 2015.
“It’s an exciting step in the development of the new church location,” said Bill Moore of Southold. “And it makes it feel like a church.”
Top photo caption: A crane positions the steeple atop the church as two workers help position it into place early Thursday. (Credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Rogers)