WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 03, 2011, 09:39 PM

New Rockford, ND, Church Ending Services After 124 Years

NEW ROCKFORD, ND (WDAZ-TV) - A church that has been around 124 years has been forced to make some big changes.

NEW ROCKFORD, ND (WDAZ-TV) - A church that has been around 124 years has been forced to make some big changes.

The United Methodist Church in New Rockford will have its last service on November 20.

Even though church services will no longer be held in the building, the doors will remain open, just for a different reason.

The United Methodist Church has been an important part of New Rockford history since it was built in 1887.

"I was concerned that it would be sold, the windows would be torn out or taken out and put somewhere else," Dakota Prairie Arts Center Manager Deb Belquist said.

Belquist didn't want to see the beautiful building go to waste.

"Our Christmas show will be in this church," Belquist said.

The Arts Center has been growing for several years and the old church building will help.

"We're kind of looking at running more than one show and becoming a destination for theater," Belquist said.

And that's a good thing for members of the United Methodist Church... Who have been somewhat let down.

Pastor Dale Emery has been leading the congregation for more than 2 years.

He says the aging membership has led to a financial burden and the church can't afford to continue service.

"The youngest member is about 55. We have several members who are in their 90's," Emery said. "It's been a sad time for many of our members but I think most if not all of them have gone through the stages of grief and have come to the point of acceptance."

And some members got a few of their questions answered.

"A few members were concerned about where do we go for our funerals and DPRCA has very graciously said that we can use this church for funerals, or weddings, and I supposed baptisms if that came up too," Emery said.

"They'll leave a lot of the stuff in there that we'll be able to use. It'll seem like home for them still," Belquist said.