New Partnership Announced for the First Baptist Church

December 18, 2015 by Rebecca Harris

It’s official! The partnership between Your Theatre, Inc. and the First Baptist congregation has been signed for the First Baptist Church.Built in 1829, this Greek Revival church in New Bedford, MA, is the place that inspired the drafting of “Robert’s Rules of Order.” Both parties signed the Purchase and Sales Agreement for the church, agreeing on a price for the property as well as a monthly rent for the congregation.

As part of the agreement, the theater and the congregation have also established how they will share the space, stewardship responsibilities, and how they will work together.This is a huge step forward in realizing their joint vision of a restored church with dedicated space for both the congregation and the theater.The theater will rehabilitate the main sanctuary for its performance space, the lower level will have a black box theater and support services, and the wing will be used primarily by the congregation for worship, administration, and programs.

Now that the legal framework is established, this frees Your Theatre to apply for capital funding.The Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE) is working with the congregation and the theater on fundraising and is continuing to provide technical assistance.One grant application was submitted in early December and the project will be applying for Massachusetts State Historic Rehabilitation tax credits beginning in January.

One hiccup in the plans is that it was discovered that the boiler for the heating system is cracked and no longer functional.This means that the building will have to go unheated and the congregation will have to relocate until this can be replaced, at an estimated cost of between $25,000 and $30,000. A new heating system is in the budget as part of the rehabilitation, but this timing is not good as the heating season has just begun.Aside from this, all systems are a go with this exciting partnership, and we look forward to seeing the refurbished spaces take shape.

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