Friendly Arabic Church purchases property on Harper Road: New Hope Presbyterian moves forward with sale after withdrawing rezoning petition

Published 12:10 am Thursday, June 1, 2023

After a rezoning petition submitted by New Hope Presbyterian Church to the City of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning Board was denied earlier this spring and subsequently withdrawn, another church has come forward to purchase the property on Harper Road.

Friendly Arabic Church, which has been based in Kernersville since 2006, is the new buyer of the church building and property in which the petitioner (New Hope Presbyterian) had applied for a special-use limited rezoning request involving a proposed move by Clemmons Gymnastics to the site earlier this year.

However, after the March 9 meeting, where the Planning Board unanimously agreed with the staff’s earlier recommendation of denial, the case, which had received strong opposition from the Harper Road Neighbors, was officially withdrawn on March 27 before ever going before the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

Senior Pastor Salim Andraos of Friendly Arabic said that his church was interested in acquiring the property, with no rezoning required because of the similar use, stating a need for a larger facility and that “50 to 60 percent of our own people live off Peace Haven Road from Winston-Salem to Clemmons.”

Andraos indicated that the church, which was planted in 1985 by a retired Baptist missionary in Greensboro and affiliated with Friendly Avenue Baptist Church while becoming “like their home mission,” had considered different buildings in the area and inquired about New Hope before learning there was a contract pending on it.

“They told us about the rezoning, and if things didn’t move forward, we would have an opportunity to offer on it,” Andraos said. “So we waited, and after that, the rezoning board didn’t approve it, and we viewed the facility and made an offer, and it was accepted.”

Andraos pointed out that the current church in Kernersville has about 4,200 square feet, while New Hope, which purchased the property on Harper Road in 2004, is on 6.21 acres and has a two-story facility with about 18,000 square feet.

“Since the beginning of our church, the Lord has been growing us and multiplying us, and the building we have is too small,” Andraos said. “It has more than what we need, but it is a blessing. The greatest thing is the gym can turn into a multi-purpose home, and we still are able to use it as a gym for sports activities and also turn it into a place to worship and other activities.”

Andraos added that the church, which has about 80 members and averages 110-120 each Sunday, has two worship services (one in English and one in Arabic). It is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, “but we see ourselves as open and independent to all denominations, all people.”

Friendly Arabic actually had an inaugural service and picnic in early May just after the deal was completed.

“We were planning to do like a picnic for the church, so instead of going to the park when we learned that we were acquiring the building, we decided to do both,” said Andraos, who added he hoped the church would be ready to start having services there sometime later in June.

“Everyone had a chance to tour the building and learned what we see, what we envision, what the Lord has given us, and we held hands, prayed and thanked God,” Andraos said. “We hope that soon after we settle in and get things situated, we can do like a celebration and get to know the people and introduce ourselves to the neighborhood. We’re so excited to be ministering in that building and to the neighborhood around us.”

Meanwhile, New Hope relocated earlier this year to the Historic Broyhill Office Suites on U.S. 158, providing worship services there at the meeting room while securing office space, contingent on the building selling.

When asked for a comment on the transaction, New Hope Pastor Ben Tietje said: “We were able to sell our former building and property on Harper Road. We are happy to continue sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in this community and gathering for worship at the Historic Broyhill building in Clemmons.”