CORTLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Open since 1837, the West Mecca United Methodist Church will hold its final service on Sunday.
“That was actually the first school that they had for the area,” Pastor Ron McIlvaine said. “It was in that woodshed, and the Methodists worshiped there also.”
The decision to shut down the church after 180 years was made by church leaders.
“Because the congregation has gotten to the point where it’s reached its age,” McIlvaine said.
McIlvaine has been at the church for 10 years.
He says, at one point, around 70 people were coming to the small church. Now it’s down to about 15.
“A lot of the churches across America are shrinking down in size now,” McIlvaine said. “Many of us are surprised that people just don’t come in the doors, and we have not adapted to that.”
McIlvaine is a pastor at three other small churches in the area. He says churches are still trying to figure out how to adjust to a shrinking attendance number.
“We have to become more personable with people in the community, which is difficult,” he said. “Because in today’s post-Christian era, people in the community don’t feel like they need to have a church.”
The final service will be Sunday at 9 a.m. A celebration is scheduled for the afternoon.
The building is drawing interest for being purchased.