It is a move that caught members of the Christians United Church completely off-guard. Members must vacate the premises in less than two weeks.
"When they moved out they indicated they wanted to move out of the property and would consider selling it. Never have I ever considered that we would not be worshiping here, and that we would not be given the opportunity to buy it," said Church President Tony Benages.
"Somber is a good word to describe it," said Benages. "It will be a memorial service because we are memorializing our chapel."
Lawrence Township Schools owns the land. They sold it to Hutson School for $1.4 million. The sanctuary will become a gymnasium.
Benages said the Lawrence Township School Board did not even give the church the chance to keep the 30-year-old building.
"The fact that it is, 'grab what you can and get out,' it is about the most draconian move I think it could be," said Benages.
Citing a financial crisis, the township's chief financial officer sent the church a letter saying their license to occupy the chapel was terminated, and the church had 11 days to get everything out. Benages said the church is trying to put a positive spin on a negative situation.
"It is easy to go about the day-to-day things when you are not challenged, but I believe we are given challenges to learn and grow," said Benages.
Benages said it will be emotional when he turns out the lights for the last time at the church he was married in.
"I hope we have a big attendance, but to be blunt, we probably will not because of how quickly this happened," said Benages.
Church officials are now working to find movers to help get their belongings out of the church. At the same time, they are looking for realtors to try to find a new place to call home.
Church told to vacate premises by May 9
The church has called the Soldiers Memorial Chapel home for 15 years.