In their January 2020 Council meeting, the Hartville Church of the Brethren voted to sell their church building and property to Hartville Homes Foundation (dba GentleBrook). GentleBrook is a not-for-profit organization that provides a variety of programs and services for developmentally disabled individuals, seniors, and community members as a whole in both Stark and Coshocton counties in Ohio. In a new joint ministry with the Hartville Church, GentleBrook They will use parts of the church building for these ministries on weekdays as the church expands their weekend services to better reach these individuals and their families.
As part of this unique agreement, the congregation will receive a down payment then monthly payments for 10 years. During those 10 years, they will have a rent-free lease for exclusive use of the sanctuary and offices and ability to use the rest of the building evenings and weekends when GentleBrook is not using the facility. Additionally, most utilities and building repair costs and improvements will be covered by GentleBrook during this time. At the end of the 10 years, they will have the opportunity to renew the lease.
The congregation has already begun to partner with GentleBrook on ministries and plans are in place to deepen those ministry connections. Many in the congregation believed that an excessive amount of their financial resources went into the upkeep of the building and look forward to being able to invest in ministry to the community in new ways. Several area churches have expressed a desire to join with them in this new ministry. It’s the congregation’s hope that this unique ministry opportunity will help to spread the Gospel in ways that are often overlooked.