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Farmington church closure delayed one year

The members of Farmington’s Faith United Methodist Church will have a year to say their goodbyes before their church — or at least their church as they know it — closes its doors.

The delay is a compromise between church members and the annual conference — the state-level Methodist leadership — who announced a plan in February to close the church and rethink what it should look like in the face of declining membership. Worship attendance at Faith United Methodist has dropped by 60 percent over the last 20 years, and Sunday School attendance has dropped by 80 percent, all while the overall population in the area has grown significantly.

For many church members, the February announcement came as a shock. It left some feeling hurt and others worried about what might come next. Reality has started to sink in during the months since, though.

“I think people are coming to the realization of what they each will do,” said Barbara Carson, Faith United Methodist’s lay leader to the annual conference. “There are some people who immediately said, ‘We want nothing to do with the United Methodist Church ever again.’”

Carson said delaying the closure of the current church for a year will allow members to come to terms with change. It will also mean members will not have to look elsewhere for a place to worship until the church’s future in Farmington is settled.

That could be beneficial for older church members, many of whom live near the current Seventh Street location, who might have trouble getting to services at churches in Rosemount or other nearby cities.

Most of all, though, the delay gives church members a chance to say good bye.

“I think it’s helpful because it gives the congregation time to deal with how they feel about it, make plans,” Carson said. “Before when we were told the church was closing June 30 it was such a shock and everyone’s feelings were, ‘What do we do?’ Now we’re able to do a little planning.”

To help with that planning state Methodist leadership will appoint an interim pastor starting July 1. Clay Oglesbee, the River Valley District superintendent of the United Methodist Church, said that pastor’s role will be primarily to help church members get used to the idea of their church closing.

“We’re not bringing a pastor in to sort of confuse people about the future, but to provide them care,” Oglesbee said.

At the same time, the annual conference will appoint a church planter to start working in the Farmington area. That person will be responsible for meeting with local residents and putting together a plan for the future of the Methodist church in the area.

Exactly what that will look like is still unclear, Oglesbee said, but he said in February there is a need to reach out to the younger families that have started moving into the area.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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