For nearly two years, my little congregation has been struggling to stay open, to merge with another congregation, to re-create itself, and now ~ finally ~ to close.
Much of what has happened has not been bloggable, but the time has come to go public, at least to some extent.
In a nutshell: a month after my arrival at the church, an unforeseen financial crisis resulted in a significant decrease in our income. Eventually, we approached two other congregations about some sort of potential relationship. One quickly backed out of our discussions. With the other, we spent many months exploring a possible merger ~ and then it backed out as well. At that point, we were financially strapped and our leadership was exhausted. We made a few efforts to renew ourselves internally, but it became apparent that there was no energy for a new start, and on September 13 the congregation voted to close the church by the end of the year.
That little paragraph represents a mountain of hard work, frustration, hope, and sadness.
For the next several weeks, my sermons will be addressed to this particular context: a congregation on the verge of closing. And I am going to write about the process, to the extent that I can. Maybe someday, I'll write about the entire enterprise.
Tomorrow: World Communion Sunday, followed by a Congregational Conversation over a meal, as we begin to process reality together.
Image: Our sanctuary. When I posted this picture on FB, a friend commented that it was beautiful, but would look better full of people. Indeed. That would be the problem.