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Washington Voices

Presbyterian church readies final service

Thu., Dec. 27, 2012, midnight

Congregation dwindles, but outreach center will continue to operate

The congregation at Mission Community Presbyterian Church at 2103 E. Mission Ave. will hold its last service on Sunday.

Church membership has dwindled. About 50 years ago there were 150 children in the church’s Sunday school. Now, with barely 40 members left, the congregation decided earlier this fall that it was time to close the 103-year-old church on the corner of Mission and Crestline Street.

“We have an aging congregation. I don’t know how many deaths we’ve had in the time I’ve been here,” said the Rev. Lucille Gump, who’s been with Mission Community Presbyterian for five years.

She expects congregation members will spend some time visiting other churches looking for a good match.

“It’s not like everyone is going to one other church,” Gump said.

Mission Community Presbyterian has a rich history, including being home to some of the earliest commissioned lay pastors, Gump said.

“They were Native American and I remember that because I was here that day,” she said.

Mission Community Presbyterian was known for its yard sale and bazaars. The church also started the Mission Community Outreach Center, which will continue to operate at its current address, 1906 E. Mission Ave.

Gump has been a pastor since 1990, and January will be the first time in a very long time when she will not have to write a Sunday sermon.

“I don’t know what I’ll do with myself,” she said, adding that closing a church is a heart-wrenching decision. “It gets harder every Sunday, the closer we get.”

During the service on Sunday, the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest will get the keys to the church, but the building will not be empty for long.

Gump said Christ the King Anglican Church will move in and hold its first service on Jan. 6.

“How often do you find that a new congregation is ready to move right in?” she asked. “We are just so happy the church doesn’t have to sit empty.”

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