LAKELAND, Fla. -- A Tampa Bay-area church is offering up a special deal just in time for Christmas.

Lakeland’s South Florida Avenue Church of Christ is giving away a house for free, but with just one catch.

You must move the home off their property first.

The 1920’s era house is located along the 1800 Block of South Florida Avenue in Lakeland on the same property as the church.

Church Deacon John McShane says the home was used to house the pulpit minister up until a few years ago when a new minister came in and decided to live elsewhere.

Ever since, church leaders have been trying to decide what to do with the home which is no longer in use and is taking up a huge amount of space on their property.

“We don’t need the house, so let’s offer it to someone who can use it,” said McShane.

But the offer isn’t without its challenges.

Because of the home’s age and massive size, the cost to transport the house to a new location could be very expensive.

The home is also considered historic and within a historically protected neighborhood in Lakeland, meaning the church needs to get final approval from the Historic Preservation Board before having the home removed or torn down.

“You don’t want to waste something that is historic,” said McShane. “You don’t want to just tear it down and leave it in a landfill. You want it to go somewhere where somebody can enjoy it.”

But making that vision a reality may be impossible if the church can’t find someone to invest potentially more than the home is worth to move it.

“Realistically, unless we can get someone to come up with the funding that they need, I figure we’ll end up parting the house out,” said McShane of the situation. “But we’re going to try our best.”

The church reports they’ve already received about five telephone calls inquiring about the offer, with about three of those who seemed serious about attempting to move the home.

But all of those people have run into the financial challenges described by McShane.

“Hopefully somebody wants it, and somebody will get it," McShane said. "That’s our hope.”

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