In January of 2022, the congregation approved funding to explore the sale of the parsonage.

In the times since, we have cleared several hurdles and are in a position to move forward with a sale.

This page is intended to keep congregants updated on the status of the sale, timeline, process, and responses to questions as we move forward.

We want to hear your hopes, address your questions, and keep you informed. Please contact Vice-Moderator Bruce Staehle, who is our primary contact for congregant communications related to the potential sale of the parsonage.

Oct 23 Update

Congregation Unanimously Votes to list the parsonage for Sale

At a  Special Congregational Meeting held on Sunday, October 22, 2023 following the close of worship, the congregation unanimously voted to authorize the Governing Board to proceed with selling the parsonage.

The Governing Board will now proceed with the steps necessary to prepare the parsonage for sale and list the property. 

The Governing Board will provide regular updates to the congregation and more information about the process as we proceed.

Oct 4 Update

Call for a Special Congregational Meeting of the First Congregational Church of Woodstock

A Special Congregational Meeting of the First Congregational Church of Woodstock is called for Sunday, October 22, 2023.

Roll Call will commence immediately following the close of worship beginning at approximately 10:50AM.

The agenda will be as follows:

  1. Opening Prayer
  2. Confirmation of Quorum
  3. To consider a motion that the congregation authorize the Governing Board to proceed with selling the parsonage.
  4. Closing Prayer
  5. Adjournment

This is an in-person meeting that will take place in the sanctuary following the conclusion of worship.

In accordance with our bylaws, congregants who are unable to be present in person may participate in the meeting via online video or by phone.

See weekly emails and worship bulletins October 6 – 22 for details.

Update as of Sept 27

On Sunday September 10, more than 20 people attended a Second Hour Conversation about the potential sale of the parsonage. Responses to all of the questions raised at this gathering have been incorporated into the Questions and Concerns  below.

Preparation for the potential sale of the parsonage was the primary agenda item explored during the September Governing Board meeting. 

The Property Team and Governing Board have:

  • Developed principles to guide our deliberations and process.
  • Received a home inspection report.
  • Formed a communications and planning team.
  • Began planning the activities to prepare the congregation and properties for a potential sale of the parsonage.
  • Launched this webpage to make it easy for you to find responses to your questions and see ongoing updates.

Guiding Principles

Based on your questions, concerns, and hopes; and our Core Values; we developed principles to guide us as we explore the possible sale of the parsonage and evaluate offers

  • Live out our values, honor one another, act in love, practice justice, and display fairness.
  • Do what is best for the church and our ministry.
  • Fulfill our legal fiduciary duty and duty of care as a nonprofit by using our assets to support and further our mission to the best of our ability.
  • Be transparent regarding the process while respecting and maintaining confidentiality for the current tenants and potential bidders.
  • Be respectful of all voices.
  • Proceed in such a manner that all feel honored, respected, and treated fairly through the process no matter the outcome.

Questions and Concerns

Selling the parsonage will help us to focus our energy and resources to strengthen the current and future mission of the church.

When the congregation acquired the parsonage in the early 1900’s, a parsonage helped a congregation attract and support clergy.

Today, retirement planning, the need for respite, and tax policies make it unattractive for clergy to reside in a parsonage. Owning and maintaining the parsonage is no longer core to the mission of the congregation.

We are in regular consultation with our existing tenants. They are aware of the potential sale and we are and will take into consideration their interests, concerns and needs as we proceed, including the potential timing of closing dates.

A preliminary market analysis suggests the list price will be around $375,000, after making minor repairs and addressing other items identified by a consulting realtor. NOTE: We have not contracted with a realtor to sell the property and cannot do so until the congregation votes to permit the sale of the property.

Price is one of the variables that we will consider in evaluating offers, other terms of the sale will also be considered. As a nonprofit organization, it is our fiduciary duty to seek the “best” offer. The “best” offer will be one that helps us fulfill our mission as a congregation.

Potential buyers with a connection to FCCW, i.e., an “internal buyer,” will have the ability to walk through the property two weeks before it is listed.

And the realtor’s commission the church pays on a sale to an “internal buyer” not represented by a realtor will be 2.5%, rather than the typical 5%. Interested individuals will need to contact Bruce Staehle, who is our primary point of contact for congregant questions related to the property sale.n

We will not have a full understanding of everything until the property is listed and we begin to receive offers.

We do know from our preliminary inspection that we will need to drill a well for the church and receive an easement for a portion of the church septic system that is on parsonage property.

Other questions, such as water filtration, radon, etc. are on our radar, but are unknown at the moment.

Although the parsonage is in the historic district, we have not found any grants that could help with various projects needed to maintain the parsonage.

The exact timetable is not yet known.  Things are moving very quickly to assess and address items needed to prepare the property for sale, including drilling a new well for the church.

Currently we anticipate a calling a congregational meeting on or after October 22. If the congregation agrees to sell the parsonage, the listingwill likely happen sometime in November with a closing sometime in the first quarter of the New Year. 

We will provide more specific timelines throughout the process.

Listing the property for sale through a broker will provide many benefits to the congregation, e.g., better visibility, greater insight for setting the list price, impartial advise.

As a tax-exempt religious organization, the church is required to use the assets of the church to further our mission, especially as it relates to the decisions made by our officers and Governing Board members.

In the case of a real estate sale, a below market sale to a private citizen would violate these duties. 

It means we need to accept the best offer to further the mission of the congregation.  The best offer is not necessarily the highest.

The Governing Board, in consultation with the congregation, will determine how best to allocate the proceeds. We anticipate that the majority of the net proceeds will be put into an endowment similar to Twentyfirst Century Fund, with some of the proceeds being held in reserve in case the septic fails.

The net contribution of rental income is currently around $7,000 a year.