WARNERVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A handful of Methodist churches in the Capital Region may be closing their doors leaving congregants with nowhere to gather.
Four Schoharie County Methodist churches are at threat of closure, and members said they were given no warning. They said closing the churches would be devastating to the community.
“It’s just your life, and then they come along and they want to take your life away?” Wilma Petersen said.
Petersen has been a member of Warnerville’s United Methodist Church for 85 years. But the 175-year-old church might soon perish by 2016.
The Upper New York United Methodist Church Conference is threatening to close the church along with a church in Mineral Springs and two others in Hyndsville and Dorloo. The conference argues the churches are “no longer viable.”
“You can’t just do that to any of these churches,” Petersen said.
Warnerville United Methodist Church Chairman Alonzo O’Dell said the conference told the church they didn’t have enough weddings, baptisms or new members in 2014. But he said the church bolsters the community by feeding the needy and hosting banquets. He also said they always pay their dues on time.
“As long as you’re doing the Lord’s work, I thought you were doing the right thing,” he said.
Members said the church has been in their families for years garnering memories for generations.
“Got married here; had children,” head of Pastor Parish Committee Violet O’Dell said. “They all were baptized, and it’s pretty set for history.”
The conference also cited a SOIL Testing Kit as a reason for closure. The kit is a survey sent to random homes in the area to evaluate the church’s mission.
But members said the survey was convoluted, and the conference never reached out to them.
“No one understood what that was about,” church member Fran Sossei said. “I threw mine in the garbage because I said, ‘What is this for?’”
Now, there’s heartache, and the church has until June 30 to provide corporation paperwork before it’s officially closed.
“To know that you’re of that little value to the conference, to the bishop; very, very heartbreaking,” Sossei said.
No one from the conference was available for an interview; however, there will be a meeting on June 30 at the United Methodist Church in Hyndsville to talk about the issue with the conference bishop.