I have hinted (or perhaps explicitly stated – I don’t remember) that one of my churches will be looking at closure. The week after I got back from Israel, we met as a church council at Langho Methodist Church and there voted to close (or ‘cease to worship’) at the building on Whalley Road. The small fellowship wants to continue to meet in some form, so the technical term of ‘cease to worship’ is a very bad one.
The process of closure only takes its first step with the local church council. It must then go on to the circuit meeting and then get final permission from the district synod. Step Two came last night. Here is the proposal as I brought last night. Please pray for the people of Langho Methodist Church
Proposal for Permission for Langho Methodist Church to Cease to Meet on 27 Sept 2009
Blackburn Circuit Meeting, 23 June 2009
In the two passages, we encounter Paul toward the end of his life and toward the beginning of his ministry. In his letter to Timothy, Paul reflects that his time of service for the church on earth nears the end. He has done what he has been called to do and he passes the baton on to his spiritual son, Timothy. Today, we at Langho find ourselves in a similar position. Our church dates back 96 years to 1913 and for nearly one hundred years we have served the church and community of Langho. Through youth work, Sunday School, pre-school, tiddlers-and-tots, coffee mornings, and worship, Langho Methodist Church has served as the light of Christ in the village. Countless names and faces have passed through the doors – people who may never have been well-known to those outside of the Church or even outside of their own time, but people who have served God and like Paul have ‘finished the race’.
Now, the Methodist Church at Langho have finished their race. Churches are born, they grow, and even die. Yet, we have a God who can surprises us in raising the dead. We do not know what this looks like or what form it will take, but we trust in God for whom everyone and all churches matter.
I come to you tonight not to witness to failure of 96 years, but I am a witness to the promise of what Paul tells the Corinthians earlier in his ministry – Langho’s ‘labour is not in vain’. Because of the resurrection, we have hope that what we do in the name of Christ will not be like a garden planted one day only to be torn out for a shopping centre the next. The work and the lives of those who laboured will be somehow taken into the work that God has been doing for 2,000 years and will continue. The work of 96 years continues on, even if not within the building that has served it for those 96 years.
So tonight, I sadly, but yet still in celebration of Langho Methodist Church, bring to you the proposal for permission for Langho Methodist Church to cease to meet as of 27 September 2009.