Cooperative effort hopes to revive 19th century Kearney church building

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KEARNEY, Mo. -- What once was old could be new again. Folks in Kearney are familiar with the Old Methodist Church, which has stood since the Civil War era.

It's a landmark of sorts, sitting on Kearney's Jefferson Street since the late 1800's. Now, there's a cooperative effort to give the old church a new future.

The project started with a connection on Facebook. When Judy Halter met Pastor Jason Harrell, they began to discuss the old church building, and ways they could use it together.

The former Methodist church hasn't been a center of worship in decades. Halter and Harrell want to see the old church become a community center, where community events and worship services could be held.

"The old church is known by everyone in Kearney," Halter said. "Whenever you talk about Old Church Plaza, you automatically assume things are at this building."

Halter says the old church needs work, including a new floor and interior walls.

"Obviously, it would take a full renovation of the facility to be able to get it up to speed to where a church could meet in a facility like this," Pastor Harrell said.

Halter already rents one half of the building, where she operates Peanut Learning Center, a popular preschool for children with learning disabilities.

Harrell serves as pastor at Genesis of Kearney, a church that meets in the Old Firehouse community center across the street. He loves that the old building retains many of its original features, and would serve many purposes.

"I think most people would love to see a building like that restored just to keep this piece of history here," Pastor Harrell said.

If their goals come to life, a building of the past will have a bright future.

This isn't the first time Kearney residents have upgraded an old building. Two years ago, the Old Firehouse Center for Creative Excellence opened in a building that was a former fire station.

Kearney Mayor Bill Dane told FOX 4 News the city recently tried to buy the old church as well, but the deal didn't work out.

Learn more about the Old Church project here.

Click here for Sean McDowell's FOX 4 Facebook page.

Follow Sean McDowell's Twitter feed here.

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