After 227 years serving the greater Georgetown community, the Georgetown United Methodist Church closed its doors in July.
Yet, this is far from the final chapter for the church. It has just merged with the Long Ridge United Methodist Church, which borders West Redding and Danbury.
The two churches — which were fewer than 10 miles apart from one another — shared the same minister, the Rev. Ferdinand Serra.
Going forward, Serra will now serve as minister of the Long Ridge church only.
According to Serra, the Georgetown church was forced to close due to its shrinking membership.
“It was no longer viable for us to remain open for one more year. We only had around 12 to 15 members. There was no way to increase membership. It had reached its limit,” he said.
Serra was pastor of the Georgetown church for 15 years and has been pastor of the Long Ridge church — which has more than 50 members — since 2005.
“Closing the Georgetown church was very hard for everyone, especially the members of Georgetown because this is the place where they built lots of memories — from baptizing their children to celebrating their marriage to greeting loved ones during funeral services,” Serra said.
For countless Sundays, congregants experienced the joy of the church, he added. “These memories are not easy to forget or walk away from.”
According to Serra, just like the Georgetown church, the two-story Long Ridge Church is a small Methodist congregation that’s very warm and caring.
The Georgetown church, which consists of three buildings — a sanctuary, parsonage and chapel — will either sell its properties, rent them, or surrender them to the Connecticut District of the New York Annual Conference, the higher governing body for both churches.
“If we found an interested party to buy the property, then we have the right to sell it and then use the money for the benefit of the Long Ridge United Methodist Church,” Serra explained.
“Closing a church is very difficult thing to do for everybody. Memories and legacies were built for several years by faithful members. There is no good reason to justify its closing but to accept the reality of life that there is time for everything and the time has come to fold,” he said.
He added, however, that the merger “gives the folded church another life. May this effort give healing to the affected members.”