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What do you think?

What isn’t Said At Every Dying Methodist Church

Was reading this article earlier today about a 142 year old United Methodist Church that is dying a typical slow death in the UMC. Nothing really out of the ordinary with a UMC falling in membership. We’ve had these before, one such instance I could find with a quick search. What was most interesting to me with this article was the responses of ‘why’ this is happening and their total blindness to their own control over it.

The size of the congregation whittles down each year as older members pass away and younger generations choose to attend what Strauch refers to as mega churches. Main Street United claims just 35 members and averages between 15 to 20 for its services.

The future of the church is in peril, considering the average age of the congregation is 82 and the youngest families in the church are in their 60s.

“A lot of it has been due to deceased members,” says Robert Hunt, who is nearing his 15th year as the church pastor. “We’ve had a lot of walk-in traffic from the neighborhood, but they don’t stay.”

First off if you want to be a church that is growing you need to stop worrying about, and playing the victim of, the mega-church. Faith population wise the mega-church only covers a small percentage of people. If trends pan out there will be continued movement back towards a close, relational, faith community by generations to come. The mega-church will continue to be around, but this relationship will be a both/and not an either/or.

If you are a church that has ‘a lot of walk-in traffic from the neighborhood’ (which is awesome) but they do not stay then you need to be asking yourself as a congregation, “WHY?” Why are they not staying? Reading on we might have some idea.

The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church owns Main Street United, and Hunt says conference officials advised him and the trustees to merge with another or modernize by putting in a projection screen and musical instruments for worship.

The congregation opposes installing new technology and prefers praise and worship as traditional as the three-floor structure the church operates out of on the corner of East Main Street and Pershing Drive in the Emily Kimbrough Historic District.

What does this tell whomever visits? This congregation is just fine dying. They do not care to revive the health of their church. To anyone who visits, they will sense this. No, projection and contemporary music are not the cure-alls for a dying church. Changing the culture of the church, which changing up worship and technologies is a step, gives people something to look forward to in the future.

What I found crazy with this church historically was this nugget in describing the church architecture (which sounds pretty impressive in places).

There is a wood accordion door that cuts the sanctuary ground floor down in size by about a third. Strauch says an orchestra played there in the days when hundreds attended services.

Pretty sure the insertion of an orchestra was a pretty contemporary thing do some 100-80 years ago. It’s in this church’s DNA to be innovative in worship, but they’ve totally stalled at one point in this aging congregations life as ‘the sweet spot’ and they are happy to take their ship/church down with them.

This ends how we all know it will. They know it as well.

For Strauch and the rest of the shrinking but unwavering congregation, the idea of shutting the doors on the church is incomprehensible. The Main Street United members have no intention of being another statistic.

“Most of us will hold out because we don’t want to go to the big churches,” Strauch says. “There’s some people that want us to close it down, but we’re going to keep it open.”

These doors will close and it is a shame. This church could have had a lasting life if the people who claim to love it would actually live into the culture the church had when they probably started going to it.

Photo from the Star Press photo gallery of this church

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July newsletter

The Cornerstone
A newsletter for and by the people called United Methodist in Gouverneur and North Gouverneur.
34 Grove Street, Gouverneur NY 13646 315-287-2440
We’ve already made the move to the sanctuary for summer worship. The service begins an hour earlier, at 10:00 a.m. Nursery care is still available and we’ll have a simplified fellowship time* afterward. We meet in the air-conditioned Brown Chapel, so just come over to the newer side of the building . Informal attire is always fine!
Our Scripture readings will take us on an adventure with the Gospel of Matthew. The choir has promised to sing a couple of times and there usually some extra gifts of music shared.
A couple of special days to highlight:
July 13th we’ll be celebrating another great year of VBS!
July 27th T-Shirt Sunday is coming back ’round for a visit. Wear that special shirt that lets us know one of your passions or exciting experiences.
We are working out the details for a Sunday worship – Church picnic at Riverview Park one week in August. Unfortunately there is not yet a definite confirmation of the date. We will be getting that word out as soon as possible.
August 24th is WGYB Sunday as We’ve Got Your Back to School
First a HUGE thank-you to those who help out with our after worship fellowship time. Whether you’ve brought a dish to share, provided coffee, washed dishes, wiped goo of the floor or just sat and enjoyed – it really helps us experience the joy that is church family!
A really big THANKS to Annetje who goes above and beyond to hold the whole thing together so we can enjoy one another’s company and cooking.
And an ahead of time “Way to Go” for those who will bring juice, lemonade, punch, etc in for a cool after worship beverage this summer (That was a hint, by the way!)
Breakfast and Lunch available -
ANYONE 18 or younger can get a free BREAKFAST and/or LUNCH at the high school, Monday – Friday, July 18th through August 21st. Breakfast: 7:15 – 9:15, Lunch: 10:30 – 12:30
Maxx Standard Marshall, son of Angel and Timothy
Chance Matthew Cardinell, son of Scott. (Chance’s godfather took part via smartphone from Afghanistan!)
Do all those graphs, accounts, budget lines, general funds and special projects get just a little overwhelming? A tad bit confusing? Well… our financial picture is improving. Several folks have really stepped up! With special one time gifts, increased pledges and a little here and there we’re chipping away at our debt.
The Finance Team is also looking into an option for online giving (ACH) so you can do a one-time set up and not have to remember your check or gift each week.
And, notice of a wonderful gift from the estate of Dorothy Coates reminds each of us of the importance of taking steps to remember the ministry of the church in our wills.

SPECIAL CHARGE CONFERENCE, JULY 22 to receive Dorothy’s gift!
Amber Ormasen is making exercise fun with her frequent Rip It classes held here at the church. It doesn’t have to cost you anything to get that heartbeat going, find your muscles and enjoy lots of laughter Everyone is welcome…. men, women, teens.
“I’m not training for a 5K. I’m not preparing for a competition. I’m not trying to set a new record. I’m not trying to impress you. I’m saving my life.”
Marthalyn Sweet will be attending the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, July 16 -20, in Tagaytay, Philippines. Tackling issues, celebrating oneness in Christ, learning from each other, and experiencing the UMC in the Philippines will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for participants.
Katie Peck will be heading in the opposite direction. She leaves the week before with a group of specially selected students to visit locations in Europe.
From the Pastor:
Grace and Peace in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am just writing a short note to thank you for your faithful support of the ministries here at First United Methodist. Because of your tithe or gift we are able to reach out to our neighbors here in the community and, through the denomination, we are touching lives all around the globe.
➢ a child feels loved and welcomed in Sunday School or dance…
➢ a family in the community receives food, fuel oil, a warm coat…
➢ mourners celebrate the life of a loved one at a personalized funeral…
➢ Scouts, 4-H, special needs persons, dieters have a place to meet…
➢ worship lifts our spirits and challenges our daily living…
➢ the resource center provides free materials for our study groups…
➢ engineers, educators, doctors venture across national boundaries…
➢ people of faith take a stand in the face of injustice and prejudice…
➢ families, teens and children encounter God via one of the camp programs…
➢ men and women have a place to ask questions, disagree, learn about themselves and Christ…
➢ a hot meal is shared along with table conversation….
➢ a family, new to the community, finds a place to belong with fellow Christians…
➢ a soldier in Afghanistan receives a box of breakfast goodies and prayers for safety…

While we might be tempted to think in terms of budgets and bills, your financial support of this church is all about ministry – providing a place, a pastor, a program, a people – that touches lives and makes a difference in the world.
If you pledge and support this ministry on a regular basis: THANK YOU!
If you would like to be listed as one of those who makes an upfront and consistent gift to First UMC: JUST START DOING IT! AND THANK YOU!
If your giving potential is extremely limited: THANK YOU FOR DOING WHAT YOU CAN!
To everyone: let us continue to rejoice together as we are the body of Christ through our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness to the world.

$75. AND GO
Have you got your registration in for camp?
There’s been a little confusion, but this year it’s $75 and go. The camper pays the registration fee and we will do the rest. Brochures are available in the office or check online at Get camping!

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Free Webinars

Visit the website for more information. Webinars are available in many topics.

Upcoming webinars

Free webinar “Finding Treasure: The Story of our Newest Stewardship Resource,” Thursday, July 10 – 6:30 p.m. CT. Jacob Armstrong, pastor and church planter, will share how he helped his congregation discover “where our treasure goes, our hearts will follow.” Details

Free webinar “What’s the Job of Conference and District Lay Leaders?” Wednesday, July 16 – 6:30 p.m. CT. Jodi Cataldo of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship will facilitate a conversation on these ministries. Details

Free webinar “Creating a Culture of Innovation Part 1: Can My Leaders Innovate?” Thursday, July 17 – 6:30 p.m. CT. This 90-minute session led by Craig Kennet Miller of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship will introduce tools for implementing new ministry strategies in local churches. Details

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Fall Adirondack Get-Away

October 3 – 5

Come enjoy the beauty of autumn at Aldersgate amid the tall pines, quiet lakes, and breathtaking scenic paths. Whether experiencing the stillness of a cabin nestled in the woods, taking a quiet walk down to the lake, or sitting in one of the outdoor chapels, this is the perfect place to find rest and renewal. Some activities will include enjoying an Adirondack storyteller, a popular bluegrass band, guided nature hikes, and renewing fellowship and worship. Join us for a weekend you will remember for a lifetime! (Adults Only)

For information on how to register, contact us: 315-348-8833 or or

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AdironDog Retreat

September 5 – 7

Take your best friend on an unforgettable 3-day weekend retreat to the beautiful Adirondack Bark… err Park. Enjoy the company of other dogs and dog lovers, celebrate the full expression of your pet’s personality, and embrace the sacred nature of your bond with your dog. Activities will include wilderness hikes, lots of open space for play time, homemade dog-treat baking, specialized guest speakers, a pet blessing, and dog grooming by appointment. Sign up soon, space is limited!

For well-socialized dogs with up-to-date vaccinations.

For more information and how to register, contact us: 315-348-8833 or or

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Committee on Native American Ministries Information regarding the Committee on Native American Ministries.

The journey toward Repentance and Healing of Relationships with Indigenous Persons continues in Upper New York with a series of District Learning Sessions hosted by the Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM).

Upper New York has a rich heritage and presence of Native Americans. These District Learning Sessions are an opportunity for listening, learning and building relationships with Native Americans and learning how to use the Act of Repentance DVD in local churches.

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Summer camp registration available

Please visit the Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center website: to view summer camp opportunites, choose your program (s) and register. For more information give them a call at 315-348-8833.

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Camp & Retreat Ministries Newsletter

Click on the link for the latest from Camps and Retreat Ministries. Check out retreats and summer camp listings.

Why should your child attend church camp?

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Upper New York Conference news

If you would like to subscribe to the Conference news via email please visit this link:

Welcome to UNY Notes and the new E-Advocate

UNY Notes are targeted email blasts in nine categories: Alerts, Prayer Concerns, Announcements, Events, Missions, Justice, Camps & Retreats, Young People, and From the Desk of Bishop Webb. You will be able to choose which categories you receive alerts about or you can opt to get them all. You can manage these categories at any time.

UNY Notes are simple text-based emails that will immediately alert you to important news and events of the Upper New York Conference.

The new E-Advocate will be sent every Thursday. It will contain a round-up of that week’s UNY Notes, along with feature articles, quick links to several high traffic areas on the Conference website, photos and more.

Like the UNY Notes, you have the option of managing your E-Advocate account at any time.

Below is a preview of what the new E-Advocate will look like. For questions, contact Conference Director of Communications Steve Hustedt at or (855) 424-7878 ext. 307.

More information:

If you are not currently a subscriber to the E-Advocate, click here to sign-up for the UNY Notes and the redesigned E-Advocate. Please note, there are two separate sign-ups.

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