Berkley Schools purchases church building for district programs

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 21, 2024

 Cana Lutheran Church on Catalpa Drive was sold to the Berkley School District last month. It will be used to house the district’s Adult Transition Program and robotics team.

Cana Lutheran Church on Catalpa Drive was sold to the Berkley School District last month. It will be used to house the district’s Adult Transition Program and robotics team.

Photo by Liz Carnegie


BERKLEY — A church building in Berkley has been sold to the school district to help create a space for district programs.

The Berkley School District officially closed on the Cana Lutheran Church property, located at 2119 Catalpa Drive, next to Berkley High School, on April 30. The purchase price for the space was $950,000, and it was bought with sinking fund dollars.

The longtime church building will be renovated and used for the district’s Adult Transition Program and robotics team, Da Bears Team 247.

“We were looking for new spaces within the district boundaries for the Adult Transition Program and for robotics, and during that search it was brought to our attention that Cana’s congregation and leadership team were considering selling the building,” Superintendent Scott Francis said. “Through mutual connections, we were able to begin a conversation with Cana’s church council, and then through months of discussion and planning, we were able to come to an agreement for the purchase of the property that we’re excited about because it meets the needs of the Adult Transition Program and the robotics program.”

Francis said the district has been looking to find a space for its Adult Transition Program, which gives special instruction to adult learners with disabilities, ages 18 to 26. It previously used the CASA building in Oak Park.

The high school’s robotics club originally was going to have a room built for it in the fieldhouse that’s going to be constructed. The club currently uses the maintenance building as its space, which will be torn down as part of a future bond project.

“We’ve already started the process of working with our professional teams, the construction and architect teams and our robotics coach and our adult transition program leadership team,” Francis said of the programs’ move to the Cana church. “We’ve already started that process with all those groups with a goal of having the building ready for both those programs in August of 2025.”

Chris Golembiewski, a longtime member of the church and president of the Cana Council, said the sale came organically through mutual connections, as it was something they weren’t planning on doing.

“The vast majority of our congregation, through numerous, countless meetings over the last several months since this first was discussed last fall, have come to the realization that this was a good partnership to sell to Berkley Schools,” he said. “It was good for Cana Lutheran, it was good for Berkley Schools and the greater Berkley community as well.”

Cana still has a lease on its building until December 2025. It will be able to use a portion of the space during this time. A press release from the school district stated the church’s offices and common space will be separate from school programming, there will be a separate entrance and the inside of the building will be separated through wall placement.

Golembiewski said the church’s current focus is finding a home for its pipe organs, stained glass and pews. Starting in the summer, the council will begin talking about what the church’s next steps will be and either finding a space in the area for itself or one to share with another congregation.

“Our hope is that we would be looking at a church, a place, a space to either join or nest within the Berkley community. Berkley, Royal Oak, you know, somewhere in our community that we’ve been in since 1945 to continue,” he said.

Francis said the sale was the perfect fit at the perfect time for the district.

“It allows us to extend our campus and provide their own space for these two programs, which will be updated for them,” he said. “They’re thrilled, we’re thrilled, it’s a win-win for the teams, for the campus and we believe for the congregation, the church, as well.”