WILLIAMSTOWN -- New Hope United Methodist Church has moved to a new location at 4 Water St., a spot Pastor Kim Kie hopes will lead to an increase in numbers.
The church was formed by a merger of the North Adams and Williamstown Methodist churches. Kie has served as the pastor of the North Adams congregation since 2007, when the two churches merged. At the time, the pastor of the Williamstown congregation was Michelle Grube, who was moved to Hudson.
"The cost of operating the buildings had become prohibitive," Kie explained. "Both were older church buildings, so they weren't very fuel-efficient in terms of heating bills, and weren't meeting our needs the way they originally had. It made sense, with two churches so close together, to share resources, and so we shared resources for a few years before we finally made the decision to merge."
For the past year, the combined church had been worshipping at the Williamstown Youth Center.
"We left there because we were looking to be in a space where we could be all week long, not just Sunday mornings," said Kie. "The youth center has lots of other programming, so they couldn't just have a space for us to leave our things set up."
Conveniently, both of the previous churches were sold within the past few months. The Williamstown church was sold to the Williamstown Community Preschool, and the North Adams church was sold to local artist Eric Rudd.
"We closed on the Williamstown property in June, and the North Adams property in September," Kie said. "I still have more legal information in my head than I care to."
At the same time, the church had a committee that had been looking at various spaces for a relocation around the Williamstown and North Adams areas.
"They checked different places out, and needed to find a place that had a rent that was reasonable for us, and with enough room for what we needed to do," said Kie. "Since we haven't been in our own space for a while now because we sold, we didn't have a space for Bible studies or fellowship events. We were glad to have the youth center, but that's not the same as having our own place, where we could just say ‘Let's meet here.' "
Kie hopes the new space might result in an uptick in attendance. Unlike the youth center, the Water Street location is within walking distance of Williams College campus.
"And we had a student come this week," Kie said, "so some of our members who have been waiting for us to get into our own space are just glad that we are. It's a chance for us to reach out more and say that we're settled for a while."
Meanwhile, Kie and the New Hope UMC have been enjoying the new location.
"The space is set up nicely, with a spot for our youth to have their own designated space with comfortable furniture, where they can gather instead of having to use a multi-use space for their events," said Kie. "It's in a place where we can gather for meetings. We've been holding meetings in people's homes, which is lovely, but there's not always enough parking."
Having just moved into the Water Street location, Kie isn't too eager to think about the future just yet.
"We're focused on settling in where we are for right now," she explained. "We are in a lease situation, and our hope would actually be to outgrow the space eventually, and buy something a little bigger. But that will take a while to get to, and we hope to be able to be settled for a couple years, and then look at our long-range plan."
For more information about the reconciling congregation of New Hope UMC, visit www.new-hopeumc.org.