Mayberry Community UMC closes doors
By Kristen Swing
Members of Mayberry Community United Methodist Church, 897 Mayberry Road, took part in their last Sunday service at the facility on April 28.
“It had gotten to be a small congregation,” said the Rev. Walter Wiekel, district superintendent of the Johnson City District United Methodist Church. “It’s just hard to keep it going.”
Over the last several years, just 10-12 people regularly attended weekly services at the church, Wiekel estimated.
“Our primary focus right now is helping them find a congregation they can become a part of now,” he said. “It’s an emotional time.”
Many will likely worship at New Victory United Methodist Church in Telford where Mayberry’s pastor also offers services.
Pastor Cathy Fowler wouldn’t say much about the closing of one of her churches when contacted last week, only that the church was having “a few problems.”
“We’re going to move forward and do the best we can,” Fowler said.
The decision to close the church, according to Wiekel, has been an “evolving” one and a topic of discussion for the last two to three months.
“It’s hard to financially keep the church going with a congregation that small,” Wiekel said. “Even just 10 years ago, there were more people But it’s been a changing congregation over the last 10-15 years.”
What will become of the Maybery Community church building itself has yet to be determined.
“We may sell it; we may hold onto it (for a future ministry),” Wiekel said. “We are working through all that right now.”
According to Wiekel, the Board of Trustees with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church will make the decisions regarding the future of the building.
The church is currently paying on a mortgage for a previous expansion of the building; however, Wiekel said he feels confident the rest of the church is worth more than the remainder of the mortgage that needs to be paid.