New purpose for Vermont church closed by lack of parishioners

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 4:58 PM EST
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FERRISBURGH, Vt. (WCAX) - A Ferrisburgh church has closed its doors due to the dwindling number of parishioners, but the building is here to stay and will now serve the community in a different way.

Pastor Paul Hoffman is cleaning out the Ferrisburgh Methodist Church.

“Doing the inventory, getting it up to speed,” Hoffman said.

The church recently held a deconsecration, losing its blessing.

“It’s not fun,” Hoffman said.

The pastor says the last full services were before the pandemic.

“Members were literally dying off and no new members were coming,” he said. “So our numbers got low and therefore the funds got low and we couldn’t keep paying our bills.”

But the 1891 building won’t get knocked down; the church donated it to the town.

“They just donated it to us,” Ferrisburgh Town Clerk Pam Cousino said. “We received title to it last week.”

The town says the select board will present ideas for what’s next for the building and that voters will ultimately decide. So far, ideas include a child care or senior center.

“We need to look at what needs to be done to the building and what the cost will be,” Cousino said.

They won’t have to travel far, it’s right next door.

“In terms of the efficiency of a core set of buildings for the community, this is ideal,” said Clark Hinsdale, the vice chair of the Ferrisburgh Select Board.

Hinsdale points out the parallel-- the current town hall was built in the 1860s and was first used as a church. Now, the town adds another former church.

“We have a very interesting and exciting history of reusing our buildings for current community needs,” Hinsdale said.

Back inside the church, Hoffman knows these once tight-knit small community churches are becoming a thing of the past.

“For some of the smaller churches, like us, just can’t afford to keep going. They don’t have enough people,” he said.

Hoffman says people who were a part of this congregation have relocated to other churches nearby.