How do you say goodbye to a church. It seems like an easy question. Pastor's leave churches all the time. They learn to say goodbye. But sometimes it is more than a pastor or a pastoral team saying goodbye to a church. Sometimes it is a community saying goodbye to its focus. Sometimes it's saying goodbye to a lifetime of spiritual support. Sometimes it is more than just saying goodbye.
And that is happening in Garland. A church with a 187 year history is closing its doors. What are the loses that our people are feeling:
- There is the family whose roots go back four generations. Though they now have another church home, they have taken the responsibility for saying goodbye the church for their family.
- There is the family who came to our church three years ago - even before they were a family. They said their vows a little over two years ago. Now the only church they have known, is closing its doors.
- There is the neighbor who has never attended church here, but has come faithfully to our Turkey and Ham Dinners and the annual Strawberry Festival in June. Recently, as we struggled to survive, they also have supported our new Roast Beef Dinner (in August) and the new Rummage Sale held each May. These events will be missed in our community.
- There are others. Families who have supported, both by their attendance and their giving, the Garland Church. They too have to find ways to say goodbye.
- There is the pastor that came 7-1/2 years ago to a struggling, hurting, and broken church. He hoped to see it grow - and it did in ways. Just not in numbers. The hurt that was felt too many years ago never quite went away. This was the same pastor that has married, baptized, confirmed, taught, preached, and walked with others as they said other kinds of goodbyes. It was this pastor that worked through the God and Country Award with a group of Girl Scouts for three years. It was this pastor who took a group of teens through confirmation class - including the overnight retreat. It was this pastor who cried when he heard the church had decided to close its doors.
Saying goodbye is not just saying goodbye. "Goodbye" is a reflection on all that has gone before. On December 31, 2009, we say goodbye to the Garland United Methodist Church.