After a century and a half, much of it spent without a permanent minister, a small Easton, Missouri, church is officially closing its doors.
“It’s been bittersweet trying to get through this,” says Connie Kerns, a member of Easton Presbyterian Church, “but sometimes you have to make a change.”
Easton Presbyterian Church officially ceased Sunday, July 9, with a ceremony held at a neighboring church in the small community. Dwindling membership and a building in increasing need of extensive repairs made it time to close the church, members say.
This year marks the 150th anniversary for the church, which was started in 1867 by approximately 16 people who gathered with the intention of creating a Presbyterian church in the community. The following year, they reported a membership of 103 to the Presbyterian General Assembly.
Around the same time, “block 18” in Easton was deeded to the church trustees and a church building, built at a cost of approximately $800, was constructed.
“At some point in time, there was a house, a church manse, built on the church property, too,” Kerns says. “From the deeds, that looks like that might have been built in 1907.”
Despite the early success founding the church, historically, it was difficult to secure a long-term pastor, Kerns says.
“In reading the minutes, it just seems like the church always had a problem keeping a pastor. They would have one for a couple of years, he would go to a bigger church, people moved away,” she says. “It just never grew. It just didn’t really take off.”
The Union Sunday School at the church helped sustain the congregation. Although intertwined in the church, it wasn’t strictly Presbyterian in denomination and was open to everyone, Kerns says.