The Woodstock Historical Society will consider Saturday whether to take ownership of the Bryant Pond Universalist Church building.

The church, built in 1852, has not hosted services for about a decade. The property has been owned by the Northern New England District of the Unitarian Universalist Church Association since 1921.

The association’s agent, Charlie Boothby, met with Woodstock selectmen Tuesday, along with Bryant Pond Universalist Church treasurer Ed Howe and Woodstock HIstorical Society Vice President Wayne Howe.

“We’re looking to turn [the church] back to the local folks,” Boothby said. “We want to find out who is most responsive to owning it.”

Wayne Howe said the town could take it over, or the WHS could. “I think we’re willing to do what needs to be done,” he said.

“If the Historical Society wants it, we’re out of the picture,” said Town Manager Vern Maxfield.

Ed Howe said the church has enough funds to care for the building for the foreseeable future. He said it has vinyl siding and the roof is in good shape, and no major repairs are needed.

Selectboard Chair Ron Deegan suggested that if the WHS wants to take on the building, it should see if it “meets the standards” of the UU association for ownership. If not, he said, Boothby should come back to the board for more discussion.

Last church

Boothby said he had done research but could not find why in 1921 the state Universalist organization asked the local congregation to turn the building over. But, he said, at that time the practice had been fairly common.

He said the current association had owned 16 church buildings in Maine when it first looked into returning them to local ownership. “We’ve gotten rid of all but this one,” he said.

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