By JIMMY LAWTON
MORRISTOWN -- After decades of service in the Morristown community, the Gouverneur Street United Methodist Church will close its doors Aug. 18.
The Rev. Pastor David C. Piatt said the church has seen escalating operational costs, without a growth in membership.
"The congregation has not seen any growth in a number of years," he said. "Folks have grown very tired and weary with trying to keep things going and financial obligations have outweighed human resources," Piatt said.
Piatt said the church council made a tough decision to close as it realized it could not continue operations without going into debt.
"The church is not in the red, and as far as I know it's been in the black all of its history," he said. "I applaud them for doing this difficult thing that they have done. That's the integrity of the folks that we have here," he said.
The building was not always a United Methodist Church, but has been a Christian house of worship for the more than 170 years.
It has operated as a United Methodist Church since the 1960s and is also on the National Register of Historic Sites.
"Its not the oldest in the community, but it has quite a history," Piatt said.
He said once the church officially closes the property will be turned over to the Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church.
"If the property is sold, the proceeds will be divided between camping ministry and new church starts and revitalization. All of the money will be used for ministry," he said.
Piatt said members will decided for themselves where to attend church, but he has been working with Ogdensburg and Galilee Methodist Churches to ensure a smooth transfer for those who are interested.
Piatt, who has been at the Morristown location for three years, said he wishes the best for members of the congregation.
"It was never my hope to do anything but to help the church thrive and grow and it’s been a very difficult thing to watch happen," he said. "I have enjoyed my time here but it’s been some good hard work."
A ceremony to deconsecrate the church will be held Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.
Piatt said it will be tough as churchgoers and community members share memories, but he believes it will be celebratory in some respects.
"I think its going to be a moving and memorable," he said.