KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A community is worried as rumors spread that one of their old churches is going to be turned into a rehab facility or housing.
Angelic Ministries bought a 38,000 square foot building on five acres of land at 4505 Fort Sumter Road, formerly the home of Halls Christian Church.
Since the purchase closed last week, Halls community members have become worried the purchase will lead to the space being used for drug rehab purposes or alternative housing.
“I’d like to know what this is going to be used for. Why they have not told us to begin with? Why there was not some community outreach before discussing with us before purchasing this?” said Holly White, who lives less than half a mile from the property.
White says she’s talked to neighbors about the safety of their children, their property values, and what the next steps for the space will be.
“I feel like it would deter young families from here. I feel like there’s other ministries you can do, the elderly, young families just trying to make it on their own, trying to pay their next KUB bill,” said White.
Questions, like White’s, were taken to Angelic Ministries Chairman of the Board of Directors John Winters. He says there are no plans for a rehab facility or alternative housing.
Over the phone, Winters told WATE 6 On Your Side the plan all along has been to include the community. With the sale happening in less than a month, Winters said the purchase happened more quickly than they anticipated.
Winters also said there are no plans to recreate the services at the North Knoxville Angelic Ministries location. Winters said he understands the population and demographics of Halls are unlike those in North Knoxville. The needs are different, too.
When asked about plans for the building, Winters says there are probably more possibilities than even the ministry’s board of directors can come up with. He says he’s planning a date for a public open house to hear from the community about what would be best.
Winters said the space could be rented with the money used to help ministry costs. He also suggested it could be a community space, an after-school destination for kids, or even a wedding venue. These are the kinds of ideas Winters says he hopes come from future public forums.