Support the Café

Search our Site

Mourning the death of a church

Mourning the death of a church

Everyday nine churches in the US close their doors for good. With that statistic ringing in her ears, the Rev. Angie Mabry-Nauta, a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America, went to worship on her congregation’s last day.

Our last Sunday together finally arrived, and about 100 people who had previously left came to honor the church that they once attended and still love. Some members who had faithfully been attending were angered. Where have these people been? Maybe if they hadn’t left, we wouldn’t be here closing this church today! This is a natural response, I think, when a community you love will die by afternoon’s end.

We shared communion together one last time, and moved from fellowship hall, where we worshipped for two years, into the sanctuary. There, in that cross-adorned sacred space that dons a banner reading “Celebrate Life!” we spoke words of blessing, closure, and release of our pastors. We sang our last hymn together, “The Church’s One Foundation,” and stood in the sanctuary for what seemed like hours, not quite sure what to do next.

Complete with people coming out of the woodworks and a communal meal following the service, the final worship felt like a funeral for our church. Our pastors recited Scripture and preached briefly, and four speakers shared their own words, eulogizing the church that they’ve loved. What a gift to be part of the remnant that stayed to the very end. Had my family left prematurely, we would have avoided some pain, yes, but also denied ourselves rich blessings and relationships deepened through shared grief. We did what Christians have done for thousands of years when a loved one has passed on—celebrated life, treasured memories, and grieved a deep loss together as the body of Christ.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

“Everyday nine churches in the US close their doors for good.”

I can’t make sense of a fact like that, without stories like the following. “…for good”: sometimes that’s absolutely true.

My prayers for the people of the Rev. Angie Mabry-Nauta’s church.

JC Fisher

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café