With a dozen regulars or fewer attending services, the 150-year-old Kinderhook United Methodist Church in rural Illinois near the Mississippi River shut its doors this Easter. That Sunday was also the last for St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, where only 16 households were putting something in the collection plate. “The service was as solemn as the funeral of a child,” a deacon told the city’s newspaper.
Last August, Rogers Heights Christian Church in Tulsa, which peaked at 600 members about 50 years ago, was disbanded. Church leaders decided to donate the building and cash reserves to the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation.
Contrary to these examples, many congregations’ deaths go relatively unnoticed, so the question remains: How many congregations shut their doors each year? And is the mortality rate for churches different from that of other organizations?