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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WWJD? Albion First United Methodist Church Makes A Heart Wrenching Decision

Beautiful stained glass window in Albion, New York, First United Methodist Church
Kim Pruitt, a fifth generation member of First United Methodist Church in Albion, New York, asked permission to use my 1/5/14 Harvspot post in their church's newsletter in light of the difficult decision they've had to make regarding their future direction as a congregation. I in turn asked whether I could share their congregation's story, using excerpts from her church's blog. I urge your prayers for this and many other churches facing similar hard choices.

For the full story you can visit their blog posts for August 18 and 29. Here is my condensed version:

Over the past few years, the church Trustees and membership have been compiling, researching, and analyzing possible solutions to a problem caused by church members almost 100 years ago in 1914. At that time, the members added an addition to the church, reoriented it, and changed the flat ceiling in the sanctuary to a vaulted ceiling. To do that, they removed the bottom support beams for the trusses. Over the years, this has weakened the trusses and caused the walls to shift – the roof is too heavy for the walls to support it without the support beams on the trusses, therefore, we are finding that the structure is seriously at risk...

Engineers and architects have assessed the situation and advised alternative solutions, such as rebuilding the trusses from below and restoring the flat ceiling at a cost of nearly $2 million or removing the roof and repairing the trusses from above at a cost of $850,000

On August 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm, members of the Albion First United Methodist Church gathered in the sanctuary for what Pastor Jack has called one of the most important meetings the church has held in the past 100 years.

...It was decided that this decision was far too important for a simple majority... so, in a single round of voting that resulted in greater than a super-majority vote, 36 of the 47 members present voted to abandon the building – turn it over to the Upper New York Annual Conference – and to remain together as a congregation to worship at another location...

In the end, it was our desire to stay together and continue with our missions and ministries, no matter where we find to do that, that brought us to the path we have chosen. We determined that the best way to continue on as a congregation was to relieve ourselves of the burden that has been weighing heavily on our hearts and our pockets over the past several years and set our sights on the future.

While we know in our hearts that we made the right decision, it doesn’t lessen the emotions and sadness we feel about leaving our beautiful historic church behind. Many of us have long, happy memories tied to this building.... Many were baptized here, married here, raised their children here, mourned their loved ones here…….it is in our hearts and a part of our lives!

...We plan to continue worshiping in our current building for some months, but at some point, we do need to decide where we will move to and when that move will take place – we will likely need interim facilities while we search for and probably renovate a more permanent home. And, of course, if circumstances should change – for whatever reason – in the coming months, we also have the option to rethink the decisions made and chart a different path. Lots and lots of work and decisions ahead... with the weight of our current building situation off our shoulders, we can focus more on doing God’s work and our service to our congregation and community. We will find a new home – together – and we will continue to grow and serve and worship – together!

Check this link, and this one, for more pictures of their historic building.
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