158-Year-Old Methodist Church Closing In Altoona
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) – Attendance and offerings have dwindled, but the church’s maintenance bills have not. And that’s why the 158-year- old First United Methodist Church in Altoona is holding its final services on Sunday.
The church’s congregation once numbered 1,700, but about three dozen people typically attend services in recent years. Annual offerings are about $36,000, nowhere near enough to cover the church’s yearly budget of $100,000. Monthly gas bills in the winter ran as much as $5,000 alone.
The Rev. Towanda Acey has pastored the church in recent years and also heads Jaggard United Methodist Church, also in Altoona. The pastor tells the Altoona Mirror that the congregations will merge and worship together at the smaller church.
In the meantime, the combined congregation will try to sell the huge, 158-year-old brownstone church that housed the city’s first Methodist congregation.