Rockford congregation decides to sell century old church - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford congregation decides to sell century old church

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

First Presbyterian Church hits the market in January. Rising costs, unused space and the shrinking size of the congregation make church members realize it's time to downsize. Some people have gone to First Presbyterian Church their entire life so agreeing to put it up for sale wasn't easy.

"It's very sad to see the building close where my kids were in Sunday school and took music lessons and my daughter got married in," says Roger Greenlaw a Member of Session.

"I'll miss sitting in that beautiful sanctuary and listening to that pipe organ. There's been many dinners down in the dining room," says Greg Makulec, a lifelong member of the church.

The 51,000 square foot building at 406 N. Main Street was built more than a century ago. Earlier this month, parishioners agreed to sell it in a 50-2 vote. Money drives the decision. The cost of maintaining first Presbyterian church keeps growing, while the number of people paying the bills keeps decreasing.

"When I joined the church in 1976, we probably had 150-225 people at church on Sunday. Now, we're in the 50 to 65 number," says Greenlaw.

"As any older building, it becomes more and more expensive to run the building and we have less and less people to help us do that," says Pastor Rev. Beth Wagner.

When one era comes to an end, another begins. "I'm also excited about what happens when we decide to not have this building and some other ideas about how we do ministry change and that's exciting," says the pastor.

"We will continue to do the things that we do, we'll just be doing them in different ways or somewhere else," says the Makulec.

First Presbyterian Church formed a task force to find a new place for the congregation. Church leaders do not have a new location in mind at this time.

The pastor says there's no rush to move out because the congregation can afford to stay there for a few more years.

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