PHILLIPS — Cherished memories remain as parishioners say goodbye to the building that has housed the Phillips Methodist Church.
A decommissioning service will take place at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the building.
“It’s a service of closure,” said Susan Kaplan Burgess, pastor of the Phillips Shared Ministry, a combined congregation of Methodist and United Church of Christ members. “The building holds a lot of treasured memories for so many of the folks. It’s their way to say goodbye.”
The ministry is letting go of the building, turning it back to the Methodist denomination, but “we’re not going anywhere,” Burgess said. “The (shared ministry) is going on. We’re all staying together, but a small congregation cannot continue to maintain three buildings.”
The ministry will retain the Congregational Church and Community House. The ministry’s kitchen is in the Community House, which the congregation allows the town to use for voting and meetings. During cold winters, the congregation worships there, she said.
The Methodist district superintendent, the Rev. Beverly Stenmark, will decommission the use of the building, said Mary Dunham, a member of the Administrative Council for the Phillips Shared Ministry.
The official decommissioning of a building used for a church acknowledges the end of that use and frees the building for any use from then on, Burgess said. In turning the building back, the Methodist denomination will decide what to do with it.
Dunham expects the denomination may sell the building to recoup the debt owed to them.
Townspeople, as well as church members, are welcome to attend the service and bring stories, pictures and anything they want to share about the history of the people there, Dunham said.
“It’s a hard place to be (for the Methodists), but we can’t look back. We need to go on for the future and those coming after us. It’s the end of a story and the beginning of a new story. We need to focus on other things,” Dunham added.
“For a smaller, older congregation, they do a phenomenal job,” Burgess said. “We’re planning a vacation Bible school for July 20 to 23 for local children from kindergarten to grade six. This is the first time we’ve done one in years, and there are other things being planned for this fall — something to be celebrated by the congregation.”
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