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Belding United Methodist Church closing after 120 years

Courtesy of Belding United Methodist Church

The church’s final service will be on August 11th

Though the building itself was built in 1904, the congregation of Belding United Methodist Church had already been meeting for decades.

“At that time, there was plenty of people, the money was flowing, and they built this building. Now mind you, it cost about $30,000 in that time to build a church. Today, that comes up to about $2.5 million.”

Reverend Melissa Wagner has been the church’s pastor for the past two years. She says now, due to lack of attendance, the church will close in August.

“I only have 8 to 12 people that come on a regular basis and that’s not enough to support financially this building. It’s not the heart of the people, there just aren’t enough. The congregation has moved away, died off. It just isn’t there anymore.”

Wagner says that the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church suggested the church close seven or eight years ago, but the congregation voted against that.

“And Belding United Methodist Church said, ‘No, we’re going to keep going until we can’t go anymore.’”

Wagner believes a number of reasons have led to low attendance, one being fallout from the COVID pandemic as well as tension within the Methodist church.

“It’s no one thing that you can put your finger on. They say, ‘Oh, people aren’t coming to church because church isn’t relevant.’ Well, church is relevant to a lot of people. They’re just not coming to this church.”

The church’s final service will be on August 11th. Wagner says she expects to be moved to a new congregation shortly thereafter.

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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