Members of local church in shock after unexpected closure
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — “I was attracted to this church because of the cohesiveness, the unity that I saw among the people and their devotion to god and to their church and community,” said Carol Worth, a longtime member of the 5th Avenue United Methodist Church.
The unexpected closure of the 5th Avenue United Methodist Church in downtown Wilmington has left members emotional. For some, the church was a place where they felt like family.
“We’ve been very active considering we’re an older congregation and we’re few. It’s just been amazing how much impact we’ve had in our community,” said Worth.
They say they were blindsided when they say what was supposed to be a vote about disaffiliation from the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, ended with the church closing and the doors locked the next day.
“It’s pretty much been silent; we do have a lawyer. There are some things happening behind the scenes that I do not know about. We have not been allowed to enter church, it was padlocked the next morning,” Worth says.
According to North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, the almost two century old building could be repurposed for something else.
“We’re not here to fight against the system, we just want to be able to choose the path that we would like to follow. I personally have no clue to where I’ll go or what I’ll do, I’m just waiting to see how things materialize,” said Worth.
The full statement from North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church is listed below.
“The Book of Discipline states that local churches are organized to serve the local community in which the Church is located. Church property is held in trust to ensure that the property is used solely for purposes consonant with the mission of the entire denomination.
Membership and missional activity of Fifth Avenue has recently declined, and the Church has a current membership of 205 and average weekly attendance of approximately 20 members.
The current membership of the Church has declined opportunities to collaborate with and participate in important ministries and needs of the North Carolina Conference and the local area.
We believe this location has the potential to meet community needs and bring people into a deeper relationship with God. It’s time for a new season of vitality and mission at this downtown address. We want to honor the legacy of Fifth Avenue and use this space as a thriving hub of ministry. Within a 1-mile radius, there are 12,000 people, and 47,000 within 3 miles.”