United Methodist Church will shift to Episcopal site for Easter

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 March 2015 at 12:00 am

‘We have to remind ourselves it’s a building and the people make the church.’

Photos by Tom Rivers – Members of the church sing hymns during today’s service, the last Sunday service at the site. A wooden beam helps support the roof in the sanctuary. The costly repairs for the roof is prompting the congregation to move out of the building.

ALBION – The congregation at the First United Methodist Church in Albion held its final Sunday service at its historic church at the corner of Platt and East State streets this morning.

The church will have its services starting in one week at Christ Episcopal Church. The United Methodists are hosting the ecumenical Good Friday service at 7 p.m. on Friday and will have a final service later that night to close the church.

Today was an emotional service, with many long-time members wiping away tears and hugging after the service.

“It’s sad to leave,” said Leslee Lockwood, who has been attending the church for 40 years.

The church has decorated the wooden pillars that support the roof in the sanctuary.

The church faces a $1 million expense in rebuilding the roof system. The congregation of about 50 doesn’t have that kind of money. It has tried for several years to line up grants, without success. It has sought multiple estimates and bids on how to fix the building.

It has proven too much.

The congregation offered the building to the denomination, but the denomination doesn’t want it. The church plans to sell the building, but that sale date hasn’t been determined yet.

The Rev. Jack Laskowski preaches from the pulpit this morning.

Jack Laskowski, the church pastor, delivered a message of hope on the congregation’s future this morning.

He noted that on Good Friday, when Christ was crucified, the world seemed bleak. But Jesus came back on Easter, bringing hope to the world, Laskowski said.

Laskowski said the impending closing of the church building has been sad for many in the congregation. There have been generations and generations of weddings, baptisms and funerals.

Lockwood said moving from the church building would be harder for the members if it was the end for the congregation. But the church – the people – are shifting to a different site.

“It would be worse if we were going to disband,” Lockwood said.

The church has a large and magnificent stained glass window of ‘The Good Shepherd.”

After years of fretting about the failing roof and mounting building repairs, Lockood said it will be freeing to be relieved of that burden.

“We’ll be energized to do more of God’s work,” she said. “We won’t have to worry about a building, and about a roof, and falling plaster and bricks. This will free us up to do more in the community.”

Pat Davis has been coming to the church since she moved to Albion 25 years ago. She marvels about the architecture of the building from 1860. It’s one of seven churches that are part of the Courthouse Square, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

A church-goer sings from the hymnal during this morning’s service.

“It’s a beautiful church,” Davis said. “We have to remind ourselves it’s a building and the people make the church.”

Davis said the congregation has always been friendly and committed to the community. That’s why she has stayed and why she is relieved the group is continuing – together.

Church-goers get in line at the back of the church near “The Good Shepherd” window and wait their turn for communion this morning.