Until, someone chains the doors of their little church shut, members of the Dorloo United Methodist Church plan to keep on worshipping there.
The same in Hynsdville, where members of the UMC voted Wednesday not to accept the reprieve offered by the Upper New York Conference.
“I think the ball is in their court,” said Peggy Himes, a spokesman for the Hyndsville UMC congregation. “We will continue to meet in Hyndsville.”
Hyndsville and Dorloo are two of the four small United Methodist Churches the Conference has said it will close by September 30 because they are no longer “viable.”
Also on the list are Warnerville and Mineral Springs.
Despite some concerns that any new benchmarks established by the Conference would be unattainable, the Warnerville UMC has agreed to the reprieve.
Hynsdville said no thanks and Dorloo and Mineral Springs weren’t given the option.
“We’re going to keep going to church until they lock us out and call the Sheriff to take us away,” said Sue Davis of Dorloo.
One of the Dorloo congregation’s gripes is that they’ve received no response to letters sent to Conference Bishop Mark Webb, asking him to reconsider.
Another is that District Superintendent Jan Rowell has never been to their church, something that will change Sunday when she has said she’ll attend their 7:30am service—for worship, not discussion, Ms. Davis said.
Despite the Conference’s characterization of the four churches as no longer viable, Dorloo is growing, Ms. Davis said—something she attributes to the passion of lay leader David Houck.
“Why isn’t there a place in the Conference for small rural churches to worship what we believe in?” she asked. “Yes, times have changed, but we don’t think closing churches is the answer.”
Many from all four of the targeted congregations have vowed that if their churches close, they’ll leave the Methodist faith before they trade up to a larger congregation.
“I’ve been there in my barn clothes,” Ms. Davis said of Dorloo, “and no one judged me. I joined my community and God and went home feeling good. Isn’t that what church is supposed to be?
“Our main plan is that we’re going to keep going to church…We’ll be there every Sunday until the doors are closed and locked.”