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Every denomination needs one of these...

Another UCC church closing it's doors

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Unfortunately, this is becoming more common. Aging churches with aging members are closing their doors. From the South Side Journal in St. Louis, Missouri:
With its Sunday attendance down to a handful and its pastor retiring, Holy Ghost United Church of Christ, 4916 Mardel Ave., will hold its final service at 10:15 a.m. Aug. 26.

Founded as the Independent German Evangelical Protestant Church of the Holy Ghost in 1834, it served a rapidly-growing German population downtown, first at a building where the old Busch Stadium was located, then at Eighth and Walnut streets.

The church continued to serve Germans into the 20th Century, and eventually located at 4916 Mardel Ave. in the Kingshighway Hills neighborhood.

Though it had as many as 350 people in Sunday services at that location, people started leaving the church until now membership is about 35 and Sunday attendance is about 18. The impending retirement of Pastor I. David Thompson forced the issue. The church membership voted to discontinue as a congregation.
What makes this all the more interesting is that while UCC Missouri Mid-South Associate Conference Minister John Dorhauer is running around the country trumping up a bogus conspiracy theory about UCC churches being stolen by other denominations, churches like Holy Ghost
United Church of Christ are closing their doors. This doesn't mean the Conference isn't conscious about the loss of aging churches, but the emphasis publicly has clearly focused on Dorhauer's conspiracy theory.

The loss of
Holy Ghost United Church of Christ is tragic. The church is 173 years old with an incredibly rich history:
A group of German Evangelical immigrants, meeting for worship as early as 1832 in Methodist and Presbyterian churches, formed the German Evangelical Congregation, the first German Protestant church in the city. The congregation met in Benton School until dedicating its first building on the northwest corner of 7th St. and Clark Ave. in 1840, when it also became known as the Independent German Evangelical Protestant Church of the Holy Ghost. A larger church at 8th and Walnut Streets was dedicated on Sept. 25, 1858. When construction of a railroad tunnel endangered the structure, the congregation relocated to the former Third Congregational Church building at Grand and Page Boulevards in 1895. Declining membership caused the congregation once more to relocate in 1923. After meeting at the B'Nai El Temple at Spring and Flad, the congregation built a chapel / classroom building at 4916 Mardel Ave. near Kingshighway Blvd. and Chippewa St. in 1928. Construction of a new sanctuary was completed in 1951.
You can read more about
the history of Holy Ghost United Church of Christ here.
posted by UCCtruths, Sunday, August 19, 2007


I'm a member of the MMSC I don't know the specifics of why they lost their membership but one thing I've noticed in older congregations (I grew up in a church that is over 75 years old and attended two churches with 100+ years on each of them) is that they have a number of things running against them. Many times they find themselves resting on their laurels content with what has been done in the past or fearful of trying something similar to something that failed many years before (even before the generation in charge at that church). In addition the aging facilities are nearly impossible to renovate in such a way that it appeals to the new generation. Couple that with an aging congregation with not enough families and you have a church that cannot survive.

As a point of clarification (although it also supports some of what you said) John Dorhauer is the association minister for the area which the church is. The problem that I think cannot be helped however is that the church itself has to take the measures to sustain themselves.
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