The Brookfield United Methodist Church at 3541 Park Ave. is for sale and will be closed as the congregation’s worship space June 1.
Linda Sokol Francis, a member of the congregation’s building committee and the patron who purchased several properties in the 3400 block of Grand Boulevard to build a new place of worship, confirmed last week that the church will be officially listed for sale next month, but that they would consider offers immediately.
“The district superintendent of the Methodist church announced that this church as it stands be closed as of June 1,” said Francis.
With the closing of the building, the Methodist church will assign a “planter” – a minister responsible for building a new congregation – to Brookfield. That person will move into the community and begin to build up a new congregation. According to Francis, there must be 144 people for a new congregation to be formed. The Brookfield United Methodist Church has about 24 active members, Francis said; it’s principally an older congregation.
“The planter and his family will be totally involved in the community,” Francis said. “He will be involved in Brookfield to facilitate the starting of a new church.”
Where that new church will be built is currently an open question. Francis purchased property on Grand Boulevard at Eight Corners for such a church, and has donated several of those parcels to the Methodist church.
However, the Brookfield village board has already rejected a proposed plan for a new church at that site. Francis said she believes that roadblock will eventually be hurdled.
“Sooner or later that village will be smart enough to figure out that it has to happen,” Francis said.
In the meantime, the local congregation will survive, but without a formal meeting place. Congregants will meet in small groups, perhaps in the church parsonage at 9001 Lincoln Ave. The parsonage will not be put up for sale at this time.
“We’re going back to basics,” Francis said.
The congregation’s pastor, the Rev. Diane Gillham, who has been in Brookfield for less than two years, is being reassigned to a church in the village of Warren, a town of about 1,500 people in northwest Illinois.
A phone message left last Thursday for Gillham at the church was not returned.
The asking price for the 15,648-square-foot property on the northeast corner of Grand/Lincoln/Park intersection will be $750,000, Francis said, though the congregation would accept less prior to June 1.
“If someone puts out an honest bid prior to June 1, we’d entertain a sale of $700,000,” Francis said.
Francis said the small congregation simply couldn’t afford the upkeep on the existing 10,462-square-foot church building.
“We couldn’t do it anymore,” Francis said. “Either we had to close the congregation or close the physical building.”
As for potential buyers of the property, Francis and Emil Peluso, chairman of the church’s building committee, met privately with members of the Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees in March.
Officials declined to comment about what was discussed at that meeting, which lasted about 10 minutes, though the reason for adjourning into closed session was to discuss a real estate matter.
Contacted Monday, Brookfield Public Library Director Kimberly Litland declined to comment on whether the library had an interest in pursuing the church property.
Library board President Dianne Duner also would not comment, confirming only that Francis and Peluso did attend an executive session whose purpose was to discuss a real estate matter.
“At this point, that’s really all I can say,” Duner said.