The town of Scenic, South Dakota isn’t used to a lot of excitement anymore. In the early 1900s, it bustled with more than one hundred and fifty residents and scores of visitors who stopped in on their way to Rapid City, but at some point along the line, everyone picked up and moved, completely abandoning the once proud buildings. Now the only business left is the Post Office with one employee, but that may all change in the coming months.

The Iglesia ni Cristo Church has purchased Scenic, boarded up buildings and all, for nearly $800,000. What they plan to do with it is a mystery to everyone including the seller. Rodeo legend Twila Merrill acquired the town bit by bit starting in the early 1960s, but with her health failing, she decided to put it on the market and was wooed by the strange bidder. Neither she nor her family have any idea what the church plans to do with the property, but the real estate agent who brokered the sale has said the old saloon and several other properties will remain.

According to USA Today, the Iglesia ni Cristo Church is a major force in the Philippines with a membership just south of two million. Recently, it has expanded its operations throughout the United States, preaching a rogue brand of Christianity focused on the end times. Whether that core message has led its leaders to purchase the property is a matter of great speculation amongst the residents of towns neighboring Scenic, but they, like us, will have to wait and see on those answers.



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