First, if you are thinking about this as a congregational council please let us know so we can support you.
It is a hard thing to consider and to make a decision about. As we receive more calls, we have decided to plan a Zoom Meeting to review these tools and seek to help congregational leaders who are thinking about closing.
Here are some resources that may be helpful. We have pulled together some resources old and new. The 2015 document section is full of several resources so don’t skip that one below.
Some traditions prefer to merge congregations rather than closing them. If you would like to learn more about that process we would be glad to share more and connect you with congregations who did this.
An article – copy and paste in your browser. When is the right time to close..
A video about discernment as a spiritual practice. How do you discern if this is the right next step for your congregaiotn – Resource Video – Portico
1000-30_discernment-leaders-guide – Portico to go with Video
New ELCA Congregation Considering Closing Guide
Previous Post Jan. 2New ELCA Manual
Alice Mann is a well known consultant. Here are a series of articles that will help you think into this future. Alice Mann articles – Crunch Time for Smaller Congregations
A year ago we also had a number of calls and congregations praying and thinking about this. Here is a blog post that layed out more of the checklist and procedure documents you might find helpful.
2015 -Resources for Congregations Considering Closing or Dissolving
This is a list of resources are some that we normally share when that decision is taken. We have decided to share them here. If you have other resources you would suggest please share them with us.
A document from 2003 by the Secretary of the ELCA Lowell Almen – The Steps to Dissolution.
One of the normal concerns centers on what happens to the property of the church. The following lays out how that works.
Constitutional Provisions regarding Closing ELCA Model Constitution 2013
In the state of Minnesota if property matters are to be addressed, four weeks notice is required. Here is the resolution to dissolve for Trinity Lutheran of Johnsonville Township drafted by Attorney Jeremy Berg from New Ulm, MN
Resolution Drafted by Jeremy Berg for Johnsonville
Here is the language of the Minnesota Statute regarding four week notice for property matters in congregations.
4 Sundays June 2013 with text 4 Sundays June 2013 with text
There is legal work that needs to be completed as you work to prepare for the dissolution of your congregation.
Dissolution State of MN Articles
Another step will be communicating about your Closing Service. Here is a press release from St. John’s of Hector. This template will help you think about things your local newspaper or the regional paper from your area might want to know. If we invite their interest, congregations have often received news coverage that was helpful.
News Release St. John’s of Hector
When you close your records are normally sent to the Region 3 Archives. If you would like them available at a neighboring congregation, then they should go to the archives to make a visual record. Currently Paul Daniels at the archives supports this work. This is a form that you can use to record what will happen to your property and also how you would like to approach the disposition of records. Recording this will allow future generations to find and see your records if needed. Paul’s email address and phone number are Bus: (651) 641-3238 E-mail: PDaniels@luthersem.edu
Dissolution Form for Archives
Planning for the Closing Worship service is another thing people will want to begin to think about. Some congregations have a single service celebrating and closing the congregation like Trinity of Chandler does in the bulletin below. Some congregations have had a celebration service in the morning and a closing service in the afternoon or on another day. These are significant choices. A member of the synod staff or the Conference Dean will normally attend to represent the larger church and to participate in the closing litany.
Trinity Chandler’s Closing Worship Service
One of our largest concerns is for the spiritual welfare of the former members of the congreegation that closees. We encourage the congregation to invite people to share what congregation they would want their membership to be transferred for after the congregation dissolves. Sometimes the community of faith moves mostly as a group to another congregation. Sometimes they are spread out into a number of congregations. Helping people let go of their church home and find a new one wheere they can receive God’s gifts of Word and sacrament is very important work for leaders and members.
Certificate of Transfer
Articles that people have found helpful.
Charles Olson – A Resurrection Story – Alban (Word) Institute.
A Resurrection Story – Charles Olson – Web Link
Books that people have found helpful.
Please share titles you encounter with us.