For 384 years the First Congregational Church of Stamford has been a congregation of faithful people.
On Sunday March 3rd they will conduct their final service. This chapter of the church’s story comes to an end. This was the church of my childhood until I graduated college. It was the church where I was baptized, confirmed and ordained. It was the church that heard me preach my first sermon at the age of 13. It was the church where I made some of my closest and life-long friends. It was the church where I served as the seminary intern between my second and third year. I am grieving over this loss.
I also know that statistics say that between 100 and 200 churches close each week. In my head, I know that churches are places where communities gather, and that many have a season of life and impact, and then reasons arise that means that the church must close. Yes I am very aware of this reality. I have been part of church closings over the years in my role. Yes I know it in my head. But I have to be honest and admit, this one hurts my heart. I’m sad about this. I am grieving.
It’s a selfish view really that is wrapped up in a variety of emotions. After all it’s “my church” right? Well no of course it’s not. I know it’s not.
So this congregation known as the First Congregational Church of Stamford is coming to an end. Yet leaders of the church are taking a brave step into the future trusting in God’s grace. They have sold the building. They will enter into a time of prayer and discernment, and they plan to open again as a new church in a new location with a new leader.
I am grateful for the vision of these pilgrim people to step into the unknown future and create the new. My heart is rejoicing over this next step. I will hold them in my prayers and offer support through the role with others on our staff to walk with them into what is next.
It is for me the definition of bittersweet. I am grieving, and I am rejoicing.
Psalm 30:5 reminds me: “The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.”
May it be so.
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