MORRISTOWN - After 170 years of worship, the Morristown United Methodist Church will close its doors next month.
The Rev. David C. Piatt, pastor of the 504 Gouverneur St. church, announced the closing Monday.
Its a difficult thing, Rev. Piatt said. I am grieving for the loss along with the parishioners. I have enjoyed my time pastoring there.
The church has seen dwindling membership over the years and increased financial obligations, according to Rev. Piatt.
This wonderful little congregation has just been shrinking smaller, he said. The financial obligations are beginning to outweigh their resources. They have decided to close the doors rather than delay the inevitable. They have been faithful in paying all their obligations, and they wanted to close while they are still in the black and not in the red. It was a difficult decision to make.
The church has 41 members.
Many of those members are out of town or out of state and are unable to be in attendance, Rev. Piatt said. Thats not unusual for many of our churches. The membership far outweighs those who are able to attend faithfully.
A special service will be held at 3 p.m. Aug. 18 to mark the closure. The service will recall the history of the church.
Rev. Piatt said he has some very special memories through his three years presiding as minister.
I think one of the most exciting things about my time here has been the Relief Time program held on Tuesday afternoons for first through fourth-graders for the past two years, Rev. Piatt said. About 30 energetic young children would walk across the parking lot from the school, and we would teach them about the Bible. They were always excited and ready to learn.
The building, initially a Presbyterian church, was built 175 years ago. It merged with a Methodist congregation into a federated Christian Church in 1952 and became the United Methodist Church of Morristown in 1967. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1982.
Church members pooled their resources last year for a partial restoration project that replaced the four Georgian Revival pillars across the buildings front porch and made other structural repairs.
Rev. Piatt said at the time that the building also required a roof replacement and extensive related work that would cost about $100,000.
The fate of the building rests in the hands of the Bishop Mark Webb of the Upper New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, Syracuse. Bishop Webb could not be reached for comment Monday.
Parishioners will have their choice of attending Galilee United Methodist Church, on County Route 6 five miles from Ogdensburg, the United Methodist Church of Ogdensburg, 627 Caroline St., or the DePeyster United Methodist Church, Rev. Piatt said.