To all church members and regular attendees of Pleasant Valley United Church of Christ, I (your board chairman) write this letter to you.
First, let me give you a deep heart felt thanks to all who attended the evening of prayer. I was deeply moved not only by your presence, but by the Holy Spirit; who made His presence known. I hope that you too were moved by His presence that evening.
As you know, the prayer service was called to ascertain guidance from God so as to be led by His will, and not our own, in the direction that Pleasant Valley should go. The board has been weighted down by the lack of attendance, overwhelming loads to maintaining our ministry, and trying to make ends meet to maintain our facility.
Bigger still, is the concern that on going discipleship and spiritual growth has been stunted, or even halted because of the inability to minister to the needs of the congregation. Many programs have been cut back, or deleted all together because of the lack of money, or the lack of people to staff them.
Our last board meeting focused mainly on this topic, and have come up with a recommendation to the congregation to dissolve Pleasant Valley United Church of Christ. It was a hard conversation and a hard vote. We all were left in tears. However, the church board does not have the authority to close the church, it can only recommend (along with it’s findings) to the congregation. Once presented to the congregation, a vote by it’s members will be taken on whether or not to proceed with the board’s recommendation. Therefore, I request that you would be present for this congregational meeting on October 21, 2018 following worship.
If the congregation does vote to proceed with the recommendation, the church will not close immediately. It will take time to do that, and the board will come up with a process for that, with guidance provided by our conference.
There are many reasons for the situation we find ourselves in. The biggest reason may be that main-line churches are finding themselves in the same situations as we, and many of them are closing at an astonishing rate across the country.
While all of this is disheartening, we still need to turn and look toward God, and remember that He is still in control. Jesus told us himself that these times would come, and I take heart on two things.
First, from scripture. Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Later Peter in his epistle (1st Peter 2:4-6) reminds Christians that they are the church built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the corner stone. None of the churches during the time of the apostles are left, yet because of their demise, the gospel has been spread through out the world. The world tried to stamp it out, but only succeeded in spreading it. Jesus’ promise still holds true today.
Which brings me to my second point of hope. While it is true that main-line denominations are shrinking, statistics shows that more people than ever believe in God, and pray to that God. Non-de-nominal churches are growing; which gives me hope.
I am truly sorry for the contents of this letter, and it wasn’t an easy one to write, and while it seems like all has failed, we need to remember Matthew 16: 18. More than ever we need each other as we go through trying time, supporting one another and encouraging one another in our faith.
I write this letter with deep love and affection for each of you! God Bless!
Matthew L. Neff (Board Chairman)