Couple transforms historic KC church into wedding venue

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 4:20 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - When your first date is on Valentine’s Day, your love story is destined to be full of romance.

For Johnny and Abby Youssef, the past two years have been a whirlwind. During that time, they have lived through their first date, engagement, marriage, a 2,000-mile move, and the purchase of a historic church in Kansas City.

The couple purchased the former church — known as Broadway Baptist Church — in Kansas City in April 2021 for roughly $700,000. Johnny tried purchasing the building several years ago, but couldn’t afford it. This time around, Johnny and Abby opted to invest their money in Kansas City instead of staying in California and buying a two-bedroom house they would quickly outgrow.

“I would drive by the church and it was one of the many buildings that I would see and say man it’s such a shame having a beautiful building like that was just deteriorating,” explained Johnny when describing why he wanted to take on the renovation project.

Abby says the church and investment is what sold her on moving to Kansas City. The pair is now building a future in the metro and sharing their journey with thousands of followers on social media, including TikTok. The Youssefs have been transparent online sharing price points for renovations, even asking for decoration feedback and input from followers in Kansas City and around the country.

Formery the Broadway Baptist Church, the Youssef's are transforming the building into a wedding...
Formery the Broadway Baptist Church, the Youssef's are transforming the building into a wedding venue called Melrose Abbey.(KCTV5)

“I put a video about the church [on TikTok] and I went to bed. The next day I woke up and it had like 2 million views, it was crazy,” recounted Johnny.

While some parts of the building have to be replaced, the goal is to repurpose as much as possible. Over the past months, there have been challenges including interest rates going up and prices for material and labor rising too.

“It’s so easy to get deflated whenever costs come in and challenges come in, but to know that there are people that are like ‘No, we believe in this’ to the point where we already have brides reaching out to us and it’s not even close to being finished yet,” expressed Abby on finding motivation from the community.

While much of the building is still undergoing renovation, the plan is to turn the balcony in the cocktail hour space, the basement into a reception hall, and church offices into hotel rooms for newlyweds and families. The venue will be known as the Melrose Abbey to symbolize a place for romantic and committed love. Johnny and Abby say they can’t wait to continue filling the space with love.

They’ve already heard from many families sharing their stories of how their parents got married at the church years back or how they attended church as a kid and hated to see it deteriorate. The excitement of what the Youssefs are building can be seen in the endless supportive messages and comments they receive from the community seeing the value and beauty being poured into the neighborhood.

While the grand opening is planned for later this year, the Youssefs have a bigger adventure on the way, parenthood. Abby is pregnant and expecting a baby girl due in June 2023.

For details and updates visit here.