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Church to purchase former school for $130,000

Pastor sees 'endless possibilities' in building
By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jul 24, 2020
Source: File photo The town of Stockton Springs has accepted a cash offer for its former elementary school from Cornerstone Bible Baptist Church in Prospect.

Stockton Springs — Cornerstone Bible Baptist Church of Prospect has offered $130,000 cash for the former Stockton Springs Elementary School, including the school building, playground and 9.5 acres of land. The Board of Selectmen unanimously accepted the offer July 9.

Town Manager Jennifer King said Cornerstone was "definitely a welcomed buyer. We're happy to have them as part of the community, and we look forward to working with them." She added that the price was about what the town had hoped to get for the building.

No Planning Board approval will be required to change the building's use to a church, she said.

The church, which Pastor Brandon Pelkey said had been looking for a new building for two years, had earlier offered $70,000 cash for the school, which the town declined. The funds were raised by members and friends of the church, Pelkey said, adding that members of the congregation were "very excited" to have their offer accepted as they watched the selectmen's meeting on Facebook Live. He added that a closing is expected by mid-August.

The building, which has had problems with mold inside, has cost the town about $40,000 to heat and maintain over the last year, King said previously. The town had considered selling the property at auction, and would probably have done so had it not received the offer from Cornerstone. Two other private offers, one of them also from a church, according to King, had been received.

Pelkey, who has pastored the church for four years, said his growing congregation of 30 to 35 members is getting too large for their building in Prospect, and has great hopes for the new building. Once the sale closes, they will begin cleaning it up, painting and doing landscaping. The church is also working with its insurer to make the playground available to the community, he said, a part of the deal that King said made the church's offer stand out from others the town had received. Further money will be raised for renovations inside the school.

He said he hopes to start having services in the school's gym by the beginning of September, and later on, he said, the library will be remodeled into a sanctuary. Church members are already planning events for next summer, he said.

In the future, opening a school in the building "is certainly a possibility," Pelkey said. "There's endless possibilities in what could be done in all of that space."

The pastor grew up in South China and began his pastoral training as a teen at a Baptist church in Augusta. After eight years there, he served for several years in a church in Unity started by his brother. He was ordained in October 2016, and went to the church in Prospect the following January. He and his wife, Nicole, have five children ranging in age from 11 to 20. Besides his work as pastor, he has a handyman and construction business.

He disclaimed any credit for the latest happy turn of events, saying, "God ... has made it all happen."

Pastor Brandon Pelkey stands in front of his church in Prospect. The congregation plans to move to the former Stockton Springs Elementary School in September. (Courtesy of: Brandon Pelkey)
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