Shalom Ministries, a faithbased outpatient counseling and mediation service, has purchased and moved into the former First Church of Christ building, at 22251 St. Rt. 2 north of Archbold.
Allen Rutter, executive director of Shalom, said the organization purchased the building for $120,000 at auction in September.
He said Shalom received $43,000 in gifts and donations to make the purchase possible.
“We feel like God brought this our way, and we’re very grateful for the support,” he said.
Shalom’s staff moved into the building Saturday, Nov. 20, and began seeing clients Monday, Nov. 22.
Shalom had been operating from a building at 301 Ditto Street, but there were some issues with the building.
First was the need for additional space to accommodate court-ordered supervised visitations.
The program, Rutter said, is for families “in a high level of conflict,” often involving court protection or restraining orders.
The court may allow a nonresident parent or grandparent to visit with a child, but that individual must be under close observation until a decision is made to release the orders.
“It’s not uncommon for these visitations to involve one to three or four children. We needed a larger space for those children to play games or do activities,” Rutter said.
At the church building, the sanctuary area was large enough, and was not equipped with pews. With chairs moved out of the way, there was plenty of “play space” available.
Also, the sanctuary provides space for workshops, training, and continuing education programs. In the past, Shalom had utilized spaces in area churches and the Sauder Heritage Inn.
Rutter said the Ditto Street building had two counseling offices available. The former church provides three.
It also made sense financially to purchase the building. By purchasing instead of leasing space, Shalom saves $400 a month, he said.
He estimated the building could be paid for in three to five years.
The building at 22251 St. Rt. 2 is the second to be constructed at that site.
The first building was destroyed by an arson fire early on the morning of June 20, 2001.
The fire was set by Julius Burch, said to be northwest Ohio’s worst serial aronist. He is currently in prison.
The new building was finished in early 2003.
The Archbold First Church of Christ held it’s last service May 25, after 38 years.
Church officials said the congregation was too small to remain open.
The church building did not need a lot of remodeling before Shalom moved in.
Rutter said the baptistery was walled off, and the interior painted. Much of the work was done by volunteers.
A Shalom Ministries sign for the building has been ordered, but not delivered.
In the future, the steeple will be removed to give the building a more “commercial building” look, he said.
Also, Rutter said, “I have a pulpit I need to liquidate.”– David Pugh