A nearly 100-year-old Orlando church abruptly shut down Friday, with leaders emailing parishioners to tell them that Sunday services would not be held.
On Saturday, church leaders at Reeves Memorial United Methodist Church, which sits at the northwest corner of Oregon Street and North Ferncreek Avenue, said the facility has become too “inward focused” but that they will reopen the church eventually.
“The intent is to get back on mission, which is making a difference in the community,” said Bob Bushong, who has been district superintendent for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church for three years. “We have gotten away from that.”
But despite Bushong saying the church could come back, the email hinted at a permanent shutdown.
“I have become fond of many of the folks at Reeves, and I am saddened that we are ending this way, especially with such suddenness due to current circumstances within Reeves,” Bushong wrote.
Church membership has been on the decline, with Reeves right now serving roughly 30 people, Bushong said.
Volunteers who provided services at the church packed up their belongings on Saturday while a locksmith changed the locks on the doors.
Others browsed the church’s thrift store, which will close for two weeks “with a decision made during that time about when and if it reopens,” Bushong wrote in his email.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups that use the building will continue to meet there, though members were erroneously told Saturday that they would not. Pastor Patti Thue later contacted the groups’ leaders to tell them they could keep using the space, Bushong said.
Pastor Patti Thue said she understands that some parishioners are upset but hoped they could support the church’s move.
“We would love for them to walk alongside us and celebrate the reimagining of this church,” she said. “We have engaged with them. Change is very hard and [their emotion] is understandable.”
SOURCE: Marco Santana