Gaede, Ending With Hope, Resource for Closing Congregations

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Beth Ann Gaede, Ending with Hope: A Resource for Closing Congregations. Alban Institute, 2002.

Referenced in: Congregational Size Dynamics and Transitions Summary

This fills a gap in church leadership literature, helping churches face closure with dignity and use their resources to spring new kingdom life.

From the Publisher

“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.

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. She is editor also of Congregations Talking about Homosexuality (1998)and Size Transitions in Congregations (2001).

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