Monday, September 12, 2005

Home Stretch

My church is headed down the final stretch. Our final worship service is September 25th, although the dissolution will not be official until the next Presbytery meeting in November. There are some good things about being in a Presbytery that only meets three times a year, but the downside is that you can spend a loooooooooooong time in a holding pattern for a process that requires Presbytery action and can't be delegated to a committee.

I attended, (and blogged about) another closing service for a church nearby last spring. This service made me wary of final worship services as "celebration". The service at the other church was planned primarily by folks from around our Presbytery. They did a good job under the difficult circumstances surrounding the closing of that particular congregation. Still, there was a sense that we were desperately trying to feel "okay" about what was happening, when we were all very sad about it, really. Even those of us, (myself included), who believed that closure was the right thing to do, wished it weren't happening. And the remaining members of that church, (they were down to about a dozen by the end), were all kinds of angry, bitter, grief-stricken, etc.

So I was very supportive of the member of our session who said, as we planned for our final month of worship, "I don't want to celebrate. I'm not happy."

Yesterday was a Service for Healing and Wholness, with a bunch of time set aside for folks to share their sadness and anger about what was happening. Next week will be a Comissioning Service where we send each other out to take the love of God that we have found in this place into the wider church and world. Then the last Sunday we will invite all comers to come help us Remember, (we're not using the word celebrate), the 111 years of our church's ministry in this place.

Another small church not too far from us, one that has also come to the brink of closing and recovered, called and volunteered to take on the reception and clean-up following the final service. This kindness warmed our hearts.

Keep us in your prayers.


Songbird said...

Your instincts are so good in this hard situation. I remember when my mother-in-law died, my by then former husband apologized for breaking down in tears. I said to him, "Doesn't this sad loss deserve your tears?" Of course. Of course.

Quotidian Grace said...

What a wonderful gesture from your neighbors. It is so sad to see a church with this kind of history close...but the Church does go on.

Friday Mom said...

You're in my prayers. This is a beautiful process that you've outlined. Such good attention to where the members are with the decision.

cheesehead said...

You are indeed in my prayers. Like Songbird, I think your instincts are good. I hope you are finding ways to care for and have support for *yourself* during this time as well.

the reverend mommy said...

I think you are exactly right. It's a sad time. Call it what it is. You are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

This is breaking my heart. I have honestly never thought of a church CLOSING. I thought more churches just opened.