Westmoore church, school agree to land deal

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Members of Westmoore Community Church dig out a scoop of dirt during the recent ground breaking for the church's new building. The church's old location was purchased by Westmoore High School earlier this year.

It's been a friendly partnership between Westmoore High School and Westmoore Community Church for the past 18 years.

And on Nov. 17, the two sides added another layer to their friendship.

The two entities, whose buildings have stood side by side on South Western Avenue for nearly two decades, agreed to a business deal earlier this year for the school to buy the church building. The church broke ground on the Nov. 17 at their new location across from Brink Junior High School, just four blocks from their current location.

Mark Hunt, Westmoore principal, said both sides were excited to come to an agreement because it will benefit everyone involved.

"This was able to happen so smoothly because of the solid relationships and preexisting relationship was so good [between us and the church]", Hunt said. "The church has bent over backwards to help us and its just made everything so easy."

The good relationship started between the two sides soon after the church bought the 10 acres of land next to the high school. With the permission of the church, the school began using the church building and parking lot for school-related activities. Extra church classrooms were used as temporary school classrooms and the church gymnasium was used by the high school band and other school-related events.

The church eventually built additions onto the building due to a sudden increase in membership and attendance. However, Paul Cunningham, senior pastor, said the church struggled to meet the monthly payments on the building, which kept them from pursuing other ministries and activities in the community and around the world.

That's when Cunningham had an idea.

"They had been wanting to use our building more and more, and we were having a conversation and I said, 'why don't you just buy our building?' They thought I was joking. But they were looking to expand, and we were looking for a new building. I was hoping we could work out a win-win situation and that's what we did."

The school already has plans for different ways they can use the new building. In addition to more classrooms, they are looking at creating a college and career center for 12th grade students and host concurrent classes for students who are taking college classes.

"Senior year used to be considered a capstone year, but we need to view it as more of a transitional year and more of a stepping stone to what they do after college," Hunt said. "We want to make sure that when students leave us, they are prepared to take the next step."

As for the church, their new location will allow them to cut costs to focus on efforts in the community, while also allowing them to make better use of their land, Cunningham said.

"It'll be a downsize but it'll be the right size," he said. "It's going to be more functional and less expensive, which will allow us to do more ministry in the community. That's really what we want to do, anyway."

Cunningham said construction will begin in February, and they are hoping to move into the new building in early 2021. Until then, the church is continuing to use the front half of their current building, while the church will continue to use other areas of the church.

"Me and Mr. Hunt have a great working relationship, where they can help us and we can help them. I'm sure we'll have a great relationship with Brink [Junior High], too."

Jesse Crittenden366-3540Follow me @jcritt31jcrittenden@normantranscript.com

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