Catawba buys former synod house on Lantz Avenue

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2013

Catawba College recently bought a house at 204 Lantz Ave. that has been, for decades, a residence and office for the minister of the Western North Carolina Association of the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ. While office space will continue to be provided in this house for the Rev. Jerry Rhyne, minister of church affairs for the Western North Carolina Association of the UCC, the remainder of the house is available for use by the college for yet-to-be-determined college needs.
In the mid-1950s, the Southern Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church decided that the synod needed a residence for the minister who served as its president and chief leader. The synod thought it would be appropriate to combine an office for this person with the residence, and approached the college, an institution founded by the denomination and with which the synod had had a strong and close relationship.
The college agreed to give a plot of land at the corner of Brenner and Lantz avenues, at the southwest corner of the campus, for the site of a synod house. The stipulation with the gift was that, should the property ever cease to be used for the intended purpose, the college would have right of first refusal to buy the property from the synod. The house was built in the late 1950s.
In 1964, following the merger that created the United Church of Christ, trustees of the Southern Synod executed an agreement stipulating that the purchase price for the college, should the college exercise the option, would be $40,000, an amount equivalent to the synod’s investment for construction of the house.
In the decades since the late 1950s, various Western N.C. Association ministers and their families have occupied the house. But with changes to the personnel structure of the Southern Conference, the Western Association of the Southern Conference no longer needed the house as a residence for an association minister and the cost of maintaining it had become a burden on the conference.
Thus, the proposal was made that the property revert to the college and that the college exercise the option to buy the house at the price in the 1964 agreement. The college also agreed to provide office space equivalent to what has been available to the association in the synod house at no rental cost to the association or conference.
According to Catawba College Chaplain and Senior Vice President Dr. Ken Clapp, the long-standing relationship between Catawba and the United Church of Christ continues through a transaction that will benefit both organizations.
“Catawba continues to honor and cherish its historic relationship with the Evangelical & Reformed Church, now the United Church of Christ. Our history is so interwoven with the history of the denomination that often our milestones overlap and become the same. This house on Lantz Avenue is one of those milestones, marking where we have been in our relationship and a serving as a testament of how we move forward in our futures, continuing to work together for the benefit of all,” Clapp explained.