In last week’s paper, Sarah Willets wrote about Shepherd’s House, a congregation in Old East Durham that is fighting to retain control of its property, which the United Methodist Church is considering selling to the N.C. Council of Churches.

Commenter vivdis writes that the denomination’s plans are “obscene”: “I went to this church growing up. It is true that [the former congregation that utilized the building] was a ‘white church.’ As the racial makeup of the area changed over the years, the congregation was not as successful in reaching out to their new neighbors as they might have been. As a result, it was clear even in the nineties that it was a dying church. It was by far for the best that a new congregation took over this beautiful building. For the United Methodist Church to sell this building out from under them would be an injustice. It would be a clear example of placing real estate over worship.

“It should be known that the United Methodist Church did not build or pay for this church. The original congregation did. They later joined the United Methodist Church and at the point signed over the property to them. It’s frankly obscene that the United Methodist Church would now seek to make a profit at the cost of the current congregation.”

Adds ct: “Seems clear that the people who founded the church were Methodist from the outset. Who paid for the building isn’t relevant; the rules for property ownership in the Methodist church (and most other churches with similar polity) go back over one hundred years. Each local church has title to its property and pays to erect and maintain buildings, but the local church holds the property and buildings in trust for the denomination whose rules govern what can be done with the property. When a local church dissolves, the denomination is in charge of what happens next. As to why the N.C. conference of the United Methodist Churchthe equivalent of a diocesehas not been able to work something out with Shepherd’s House, I don’t understand.”

Nancy Jo Smith counters, “As a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church, I understand the position of the leaders/trustees of the denomination. A church building does not belong to an individual congregation; it is owned by the conference. From what I have read, it appears that the powers that be still want to serve the local community.”

Timothy Oswald writes that the church’s complaint that turning over the building to a white-led organization could add to the neighborhood’s gentrification amounts to “blatant racism and racial division propaganda”: “I fear the mainstreaming and acceptance of racism toward one particular group of people based solely on the color of their skin. What type of world will our children inherit if this continues?

“What is wrong with the median income rising in the community? As is admitted in the article, the decline in the percentage of African Americans in the community is due to mostly Hispanic migration from Central and South America. But the Hispanic community isn’t demonized in this article. Ever thought that the Hispanic community might be responsible for the rise in average wages and home ownership? Or can Hispanic people not work hard and achieve in America?”

Finally, from the INDY‘s Department of Corrections: A story in the Durham edition of last week’s paper about Durham city workers who had been exposed to arsenic misstated the workers’ arsenic concentration levels and the method of testing they underwent to determine those levels. The worker with the highest concentration tested at more than six times the level that is considered safe a month after the exposure.

Want to see your name in bold? Email us at, comment on our Facebook page or, or hit us up on Twitter: @indyweek.