Lawrence Station – The Lawrence Station United Church has closed its doors.
Last Sunday evening, Rev. Bob Johnson conducted the decommissioning service with a congregation of about 40 people from the St. Croix Presbytery.
Johnson said the church has had a declining congregation over the years, and now has only two active members.
It becomes the 10th church to be closed in the Presbytery since Johnson came to the region in 2003. Only eight United churches remain active, with one, The Knox United Church in Tower Hill, scheduled to close its doors in October.
That church is attended by four parishioners said Johnson.
“One has come from Saint John every Sunday for the last 32 years to play the organ. One has just moved away, so that leaves only two local parishioners there too.”
Both churches needed new roofs, a cost the congregations just couldn’t support, which became a major deciding factor in the decision to close them.
Those decisions, he said, were made by the individual congregations of each church in meetings with him as a representative of the Presbytery.
By Tuesday, the stained glass windows in the church had been removed from the Lawrence Station church, and one of its pews was sitting on the front lawn near the short connecting road from Route 127. The church will be demolished.
Mary Faith Cleghorn of Leverville was one of the people who attended the Sunday decommissioning service. She said while it’s sad the church is closing, and the structure will be torn down, she said she’d feel worse if the building was just allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, and become derelict.
The 130-year-old Lawrence Station church was part of a three point parish which included Tower Hill and Rollingdam. Services were held in each church on a rotating basis every three weeks.
“We feel badly we’ve had to make that decision,” said Johnson of the Lawrence Station church. He said there’s a lot of heartache associated with the closure and the feeling that the parishioners are disappointing their parents, grandparents and other ancestors who built and worshipped in the church.
“But it’s not their fault; there’s no way we can repopulate this community.”
Johnson said while there appears to be a returning shift of going to church, “this building can’t wait for that to happen.”
“It is sad, but I told them Sunday evening, the church isn’t the building. We can still do the work that the church needs to do.”
Johnson said the Lawrence Station church has a modest amount of funding which it will donate to area cemeteries as a legacy. The land will be donated to the Lawrence Station Fire Department next door.