(CHRISTIAN POST) -- In 206 years, Christ Church UMC in Southwick, Massachusetts, has survived changes to its name, facilities and membership. After more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, members voted in May to permanently disband the congregation on July 1 due to their dwindling numbers, and the pastor decided it was a good time to retire too.
“The time has come for this congregation of Christ’s holy church to disband and take leave of this building,” the Rev. Ken Blanchard said at the church’s final official service on Sunday, according to Mass Live. “It has served our holy faith well. It is fitting, therefore, that we should take leave of this consecrated house, lifting up our hearts in thanksgiving for this common store of memories. … This is my farewell to pastoral service.”
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When the church was started in 1816 with just eight members, the faithful met in private homes and district school houses. The preaching was also done by Methodist ministers known as “circuit riders” because they traveled by horseback throughout numerous towns, a brief history of the church posted on their website explains.