Church in southwest Calgary offered free to group in need

A Calgary man is giving away a church he owns in the southwest district of Marda Loop.

Rob Henschel bought the vacant Marda Loop church to redevelop the lot with new houses

The owner of this former Serbian Orthodox church plans to give it away to a group willing to pay to move it. The large Marda Loop lot will then be used to build three new executive homes. (CBC)

A Calgary man is giving away a church he owns in the southwest district of Marda Loop.

RobHenschel purchased the vacant Serbian Orthodox Church St. Simeon at the corner of 19th Street and 31st Avenue southwest for $1.65 million. 

The congregation is moving to a new church and Henschel wants to build three homes on the property.

Instead of tearing down the 27-year-old church, he would like to see it go to a non-profit group.

“My intention is to donate it to a worthy cause, so if it's a non-government organization or not-for-profit or a religious organization and they need a church or a hall. They would move it at their expense, but yeah, I'm happy to donate the building itself,” he said.

But the cost of moving the building might be considerable, Henschel said.

"These vaulted ceilings are probably 25 or 30 feet, so there are issues of power lines," he said. "It falls into a different permit category as far as moving permits." 

Pastor David Zimmerman, with the Bragg Creek Community Church, is looking into the idea. His congregation currently meets in the town’s community centre.

“The fact that this church has been used as a church, I think it fits with that small town country church, and that would definitely be a draw,” he said.

Henschel said he would like to have a firm offer from someone by the end of the month.

"I don't know if this will grant me sainthood or eternal life but as long as it goes for a good cause,” he said.