Slingerlands church to close its doors

Community United Methodist a local landmark but faced declining membership in recent years

The Community United Methodist Church in Slingerlands is closing its doors this summer after more than 140 years.

The Community United Methodist Church in Slingerlands is closing its doors this summer after more than 140 years.

— Parishioners of Community United Methodist Church are bidding their final farewells, as the Slingerlands church is set to close its doors this summer.

The church has faced financial difficulties in recent years due to low membership and high maintenance costs. The final service will be held at the end of June.

“In the past, churches could operate like old mom-and-pop, corner store businesses,” said the Rev. Laurel Phillips. “Now, you have to pay for insurance, and there’s the added expense for upkeep of an old building.”

According to Town Historian Susan Leath, the church was originally established in 1871 after the town’s Methodists split into two groups following an argument over where to build their new church. Land and building material was eventually donated by Albert I. Slingerland to the splinter group, and the new church building was dedicated that December. Slingerland also built the patronage next door a year later.

Phillips has only been with the church for four years, but said membership has declined and there aren’t enough younger members to make up for the work being done by the church’s older congregants.

Ten years ago, about 90 people were attending services in Slingerlands each Sunday. Phillips said when she started in 2010, membership was at about 50 people. Now, she said 25 people at best attend services.

“We’ve been in a financial decline for the last few years,” said Phillips. “We’ve been sustaining ourselves with endowment money, since we had to start using that to pay for general expenses.”

Phillips said the membership has changed because the town’s demographics have changed. A similar problem is being faced by churches across the country.

“Most of the people living in Slingerlands now are younger people who aren’t necessarily looking for a church,” said Phillips. “Organized religion isn’t as popular with younger people with busy families. We didn’t have what was needed to attract younger people, which is other younger people.”

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