Hall-elujah!The Brothers of The Knoxville Council 645 of the Knights of Columbus will vote next month on whether or not to purchase property on Millertown Pike that was formerly the home of the Gospel Light Baptist Church to be our new Council Hall.
Unfortunately for the congregation of Gospel Light, they are left with too few families to sustain a viable church group, so they want out from under the care of the property. Fortunately for us, this beautiful property came our way and the offer we've made has been accepted by the trustees of the congregation. Now we have to vote officially on financing arrangements.
As you can see, it is quite a holy setting for our twice-monthly meetings. The sign will also remain. If financing is ratified the first week of June, we'll change the sign to reflect that the property is now in the service of the Knights of Columbus. (Note the belfry!) I have it on good word that Bishop Kurtz himself may attend the dedication of the new facilities, though I do not know if this is actually going to be the case yet.
Clearly some work needs to be done here, and we estimate it will cost around $20,000 to renovate the church and the adjoining buildings. Much of the work that needs to be done are things that need to be done anyway, like a new paint job, as can be seen here, or updating the insulation and inner brick reinforcements, which you can't see.
This is the rear of the church itself and a view of an addition made in the 1940's in the right of the picture. That addition os one of the parts of the property in need of significant repair.
Some members of our Knights of Columbus inspection team check out the inside of the church. Grand Knight Jack McCusker is the fellow in the center with his back to the camera inspecting a lecturn.
This hallway leads from the church area to the back additions. When they are renovated and restored, we'll likely be having regular meetings in these additions.
This meeting and kitchen area may be the future site of regular meetings. There are other rooms in these additions that can serve as a lounge and game room (one probably will be), or a childcare facility.
This is an example of a meeting room in one of the additions that seats around 25 people.
The original alter window of the church which recognizes the people who built it is still there. The church was originally built as a Lutheran church and the names of the church's German founders and their birth dates (Leipzig 1812) can be found there.
The Council is going to try and have the property designated as a historic place so that it can never be destroyed or claimed by use of eminent domain. Not only is such a move important to preserve such an important historical landmark, I'd say it would be our little strike at Kelo.
The reason we would need to do this is that when we take control of the property, it may lose its tax-exempt status (to my knowledge, Tennessee does not have an exemption for fraternal halls the way many other States do) because even though the Knights are a part of the Catholic Church, the Knights nor the Home Association which will be responsible for the property have tax exemptions, since the K of C sells insurance as an option to members.
The members of Gospel Light can rest easy, however, that the church and the connected buildings will continue to be used for holy purposes. Prayer services and other appropriate religious observances will continue to be held there.
Obviously, I hate it that the Knights are benefiting from the decline of a spiritual family. However, I can't think of a better group of people to entrust with such a historic place.