By Wayne Ford, The Florida Times-Union. (Lexington, Ga.)
Sunday afternoon marks the last official church service for Lexington Presbyterian Church, located on a quiet residential street and deeply rooted in the history of this small Oglethorpe County town.
The closing ceremonies for the church, which originated in 1785 as Beth Salem Presbyterian Church, begin at 3 p.m. and will include comments from officials of the Presbyterian church [PCUSA], Columbia Theological Seminary, community leaders and the last three members of the church.
Those members — Jerry Jones, Lisa King and J.W. King — voted to dissolve the church, an action that will turn the building over to the care of the Oglethorpe County community.
“It was heart wrenching, but I also know this is what is necessary,” Lisa King said. “Three people cannot carry the church anymore because of expenses … and we haven’t had a permanent preacher in a long, long time.”
A community organization is poised to preserve the building, which also has served as a venue for concerts and special Christmas celebrations.
I’ve always thought that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of PCUSA congregations with fewer than 100 members would close their doors within a decade or two. After all, how could they possibly continue to support their physical plant, pay a pastor and other staff, etc.? Yet Lexington had 8 members in 2003, and survived another 12 years. A congregation in which I served as elder 20 years ago has seen its membership drop from 225 to 65 since then. I don’t know how those 65 keep the doors open, but somehow they do.
When u have no message, why should I support a church that is dead??
Every 5 to 7 years, a church needs to do a comprehensive self-study. Demographics change–The environment changes. Are we meeting the needs of the “flock?” What are we doing well? What do we need to improve on? God has a vision for all our churches–Let us find and follow it.