The Friends of Historic Christ Church was selected as the organization to take ownership of the historic building that dates back to circa 1880.
The Historic Christ Church Subcommittee made the recommendation that the property be awarded to The Friends of Historic Christ Church with several conditions.
Firstly, Shine Like Stars Pre-School shall be given a one-year extension. The lease will begin on July 1, 2019 and will end on June 30, 2020. The extension of the lease will allow for a stream of revenue for Friends of Historic Christ Church, while it pursues grants and fundraising opportunities. Any future extensions of this lease will be the subject of negotiations between Friends of Historic Christ Church and Children’s Center for the Learning Arts/Shine Like Stars.
Secondly, if for any reason Friends of Historic Christ Church cannot maintain the property, the county will have first right of refusal to recapture the property at no cost.
Additionally, Alcoholics Anonymous shall be allowed to continue to meet in the church’s parish hall as long as they wish to do so.
The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners voted in favor of the subcommittee’s recommendation at their July 23, meeting. The Friends of Historic Christ Church were given two weeks to accept the award and conditions. Following acceptance, the transfer will be advertised in a local paper for three successive weeks giving the terms and the compensation to be received. At the conclusion of the advertisement period, the county may commence with the formal transfer of the property.
“The Friends of Historic Christ Church will have much work ahead in preparation for the eventual use of the church property,” said Nancy Cook, chair of the organization. "Our main goal is to make it a viable center for the community, presenting concerts, historical tours, and offering it as a venue for meetings and other activities."
Commissioners Christopher Corchiarino and Stephen Wilson interviewed all of the candidates that had applied to take over the church.
Corchiarino said, "The commission formed a subcommittee and interviewed all of the applicants, great concepts were put forth. Some of the concepts wouldn't work with the historic easement. An overriding factor here is that when the county took possession of this building a long time ago we accepted a civic charge for the community. That's an obligation we need to fulfill. The Friends of Historic Christ Church was the one that the committee believed, overall, on balance of all considerations, was most appropriate. That is not to say any of the groups did not having good plans. The committee looked beyond just the next few years and evaluated what that church is going to be doing for the community when we're all dead and gone. That's an obligation we took very seriously. Friends of Christ Church had the best opportunity to preserve the church. We are also very conscious of the families that have their preschool children attending the Shine Like Stars Day Care. Up-ending them a month before the school season starts would impose a significant hardship on those families."
Corchiarino said extending the lease for another year provides relief for those families and a stream of income for Friends of Historic Christ Church while they apply for grants. He said many of the preschool families and others interested in the building had promised help in the way of funds or sweat equity if one group got it. "I'm encouraging all of them to donate that activity and those funds to the Friends of Christ Church because I'm convinced that if those families in the Shine Like Stars group showed the Friends of Christ Church what an asset they are to that organization you are going to find a way for that preschool to continue and coexist with the Friends of Historic Christ Church. It's an opportunity for them to all find out if they can work together and I hope they can. Corchiarino said, "It is going to take a lot of money to maintain that building and it's going to take the community coming together to make that work."