Petersburg church to go on auction block

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - After nearly 60 years Walnut Hill Baptist Church in Petersburg closes its doors. Now, the church is going on the auction block.

The church will be sold to highest bidder. A declining congregation is the reason behind the closure.

The sign out front says it all: Auction, December 12th…Walnut Hill Baptist Church will be sold. The church held its final service in March of last year. Next month it'll be on the auction block.

Motley's Auction and Realty Group will conduct the auction.

"Walnut Hill Baptist Church had a certain amount of time to sell the property. The Virginia Mission Board asked us to offer our service to sell it in a quicker manner," said Pete Hastings with Motley's Auction and Realty Group.

It was a divine start that began 59 years ago; Walnut Hill Baptist Church opened its doors, ministering to hundreds. But in recent years the church has seen a steady drop in membership. A decision was made to dissolve and sell the church.

"We've gotten several organizations in the area expanding and growing in Petersburg - some Christian and other faiths have been looking at the property," Hastings said.

Other church leaders in the community say many places of worship are struggling to keep membership up and doors open.

"Congregations are facing the challenges that the world faces and that is how do we maintain our traditional base and reach and appeal to new contemporary audiences," said Pastor George Lyons with Mt. Gillfield Baptist Church.

Pastor George Lyons says whenever a church dissolves -- community resources are diminished.

"There's a void in the community. With any fellowship, a band of brothers or sisters, when you lose one you do miss it. You feel the loss but at the same time you still have the same commander and chief in out God," he said.

Lyons says he hopes purchaser of the property will have a heavenly message.

The Virginia Mission Baptist Board is the listed owner of the property -- which has an assessed value of nearly $850,000.

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