133-year-old Scranton church to close its doors
SCRANTON (WOLF) -- For over a century, these walls have heard the word of God.
"I mean it's bittersweet because we wish it could have continued on," said Pastor Scott O. Miller.
But this Sunday, St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Scranton will close for good.
"We had to eat up our savings, and we knew that we wouldn't make it another year to the end of this year," he said.
Pastor Scott O. Miller says an aging congregation and economic issues haven't been easy.
"We wanted to close with some sort of plan and dignity rather than just 'hey we're done'," said Miller.
And changing times have brought battles of their own.
"I think it speaks to church attendance in general. A lot of people just aren't going, a lot of people just watch it online or listen to podcasts," said the pastor.
St. Paul's has a rich history dating back to 1885.
It began as a church for German immigrants, and today half the congregation is Congolese refugees.
Now they're moving in with Elm Park United Methodist a few minutes away.
"Our resources, some of our grants, things that we have for our Congolese community, our van, our translation system, those things will go to Elm Park to help with that ministry and other ministries there," said Miller.
Across the pews, and on stain glass windows, you can see the names of past members.
"The church is usually there for those big points in life and to see that place gone...a lot of people are struggling with that," Miller shared.
"Sad. Very sad. I know my mom's very upset over it. Just very emotional," said Robin Prall.
This weekend won't just have the last sermon... it'll also host the last wedding.
"It's bittersweet. I'm honored to have the last wedding here," said groom-to-be Jim Willibey.
Scranton native and bride-to-be Robin Prall was confirmed at St. Paul's, and she and her kids were baptized here.
"It's been my dream to get married at my family church," Prall shared.
That's why she moved up her wedding up a year and half and drove down from Buffalo.
"We went on vacation to Punta Cana and I proposed on the 20th of January right on the beach. We were excited, we're thinking this is going to be great, we're gonna have two years to plan a wedding, and we got home and her mom said... 'guess what...'" joked Willibey.
A bittersweet ending for a legacy of worship.
"At the end of the day I'm trying to encourage everybody you know, it's a building, and it's sad, but as long as they can stay together, they're still the church," said Miller.
First Christian Church in Scranton also has plans to close its doors this weekend, after over more than a century.