Ending with Hope: A Resource for Closing Congregations
Beth Ann Gaede
“Why is it we do funerals so well but often balk at even recognizing the death of a congregation? Couldn’t we do grief ministry and funerals as well for social groups as we do for individuals?” challenges Gilson Waldkoenig in his seminary classes. Waldkoenig, Associate Professor of Church in Society
at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, contributes his special insights on the subject of church endings in this unique and important book.
Ending with Hope
grows out of the understanding that although closing a congregation is in many ways about dying, it can also be about new life. Closing a congregation does not have to be about failure but can be about redirecting resources for new ministry.
Contributors represent eight denominations and include more than a dozen pastors, lay leaders, judicatory staff, and others who have “been there”—who have helped congregations through the painful closing process. Resources include models for assessing whether a congregation should close; reflections on members’ and pastors’ experiences during closing; case studies; guidance for deciding what to do with a building; suggestions for selecting and preserving documents and artifacts; rituals for healthy closings; a survey of historical trends regarding closings; and other helpful materials.
Praise for the Book
“Ending with Hope fills a gap in congregational leadership literature. To gather the church family, to focus on key decisions, to celebrate the past and explore the future, and to bind up the wounded are basic end-of-ministry leadership processes. If there’s nothing more practical than good theory, then there’s nothing more powerful than good practice. This book advances both the theory and practice of ministry and demonstrates a fundamental theological theme: resurrection follows death.” —Robert D. Dale Director, Center for Creative Church Leadership Development Richmond, Virginia
“This book provides an excellent, hands-on resource for congregations facing the tough decision—to close or not to close. The question is not an issue for only a single denomination; so this book is written from a broad perspective that will be useful to congregations from a wide spectrum of denominations and contexts. Ending with Hope may, indeed, provide a vision for new beginnings.” —Robert K. Welsh, President, Council on Christian Unity, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
About the Author
Beth Ann Gaede has been an editor with the Alban Institute since 1995. A pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, she works as a freelance editor and writer for a variety of church-related publishers.
Alban No. AL253
paper, 173 pages
($11.20 for members)