As you Board Chairman, I prayerfully write this letter to you. I want you to know that your church board has been working very hard to maintain and run Pleasant Valley United Church of Christ. We strive to make our church a place that glorifies God and His Son Jesus Christ. I know that each one has sacrificed their time, money, and placed their whole selves into Pleasant Valley.
However, we as a board, (and probably you as a member, or regular attendee) can not help but to notice our low attendance. It is the “elephant” in the room. While we have discussed this at length at many of our board meetings, we have failed to answer this problem.
It is becoming obvious that even maintaining what we have, both physically and spiritually, has become nearly impossible. Our board has scaled back, or in some cases cut out all together, many of our programs. Mainly for two reasons; lack of funding and lack of volunteers to staff them. We have cut back the number of board members, and (in 2011) altered the constitution so as to be able to make church decisions.
Our campus consists of three buildings on nearly 5 acres of land. Our constitution was set to have 6 trustees. These trustees would, together along with the congregation, maintain all of the campus. However due to the lack of people, we have only one trustee, and only a few who are able to help. Maintaining them is nearly impossible now, and as our buildings age, it will only become harder to maintain them.
However, the physical part of our church (i.e. buildings etc.) is just a small part of our bigger issue. The bigger issue is the growth of our faith. While many people think this centers around the pastor, it actually centers around each individual and their relationship with God.
It is the responsibility of every Christian to follow Christ and His example. He or she is to grow in the faith, becoming mature, and to spread the message of the gospel making disciples as the Holy Spirit equips them with spiritual gifts.
The church then is the place where we come together to worship God giving him the glory, encourage one another, and to engage in learning of God. While the pastor is key, along with other leaders to create a place where this happens, it is only one part. The relationship is to be reciprocal encouraging one another and supporting our leaders as they do this daunting task.
Our church is unable to support the pastor in a way that is needed for her to succeed. We need a full time pastor to have any chance for success. However we are not able to fund a full time pastor, and haven’t been able to for more than 20 years. And with no spiritual help (I.e. deacons and deaconesses) it only drains them leaving them empty and vulnerable.
So what am I saying? Are we to close the doors? As of now we are not sure. While each of is responsible, no one is to blame. Christ maintains His church, and if there isn’t a purpose for our church here, then it is at His discretion to remove it. While that is a sad thought, there is hope. We know that Christ wins in the end, and that He will be glorious. Statistics show that mainline churches are closing at an alarming rate, but faith in God has actually increased.
Also, we know that when God closes a door, He opens a another. The churches in the bible are closed, yet it was through their closer that the word was spread throughout the world. If it is to be our fate to close, then I know that God will use each or our lights in a way that will give Him glory, and it will be good!
But as of now, no decision has been made. However it is now the center of our conversations at the board meetings. We are going to meet in the near future to discuss this topic; which is why I am writing this letter. While I ask you to be in prayer daily about this subject, I would like to invite you to a night of prayer at the church next Sunday, September 9th at 7:00 PM. I feel that it is very important for you to attend, and I ask that you make every effort to come if possible.
I thank you for how you have supported us in the past, and I hope that you will continue to support us at this time.
Peace in Christ,
Matthew L. Neff (board chairman)