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Will This Narberth Church Be Torn Down?

We wrote in June about a Narberth church that was for sale after it had been turned into a single-family home. (As far as we know, it's still for sale.) Now, right across the street, there's another church on the market, but this is a church-church. As in, people still worship there—at least until May 2013. So if you're a megalomaniac who thinks you can just walk into this church and found your own religion, think again. There may be some very unhappy Methodists in your way. By next year, the congregants of Narbeth United Methodist Church will have joined the St. Luke United Methodist Church in Bryn Mawr, which sounds like a happy marriage for all involved. The bigger problem may be finding space for the groups that meet there to do angel's work—groups like the Narberth Community Food Bank and the New Horizons Senior Center.

If the building is not purchased to be used for religious purposes, it can be torn down and replaced with residential property. Real estate agent John Duffy, who's handling the sale, told Patch, "Some religious institutions have expressed interest, and a few developers have. The congregation and ourselves would really love to see this stay as a religious institution. But they also have to look at the fact that it’s real property and they want to get somewhere close to fair market value."

Though the church is a historic presence in the community, "Narberth Borough has no specific historic preservation protections, however, and the buildings could be demolished," writes Cheryl Allison of Main Line Media News. She continues:

In that case, the parcels would revert to their underlying R-3 zoning, which borough manager Bill Martin explained permits residential uses including single-family and single-family detached homes and triplex, or three-unit residential buildings. Duffy said in his initial analysis, the parcels could accommodate up to six single-family homes.

But the church has a strong advocate in Duffy:

In its 112 years in Narberth, the church “has done so much good for the community,” he said. “It breaks my heart,” he said of the closing. The property's sale price also includes the three-story parsonage—featured in The First 300: The Amazing and Rich History of Lower Merion—that was built in 1883 by Edward R. Price. It has two apartments and a large parking lot.

· Narberth United Methodist Church archives [Patch]
· Community groups seeking new homes with Narberth church closing [Main Line Media]
· Listing: 200 Price Avenue, Narberth [Duffy Real Estate]