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Church closes doors after more than 200 years

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First Congregational United Church of Christ, Sidney

SIDNEY (WBNG) -- The First Congregational United Church of Christ, built in 1808, is closing its doors for good after dwindling attendance and a lack of funds.

"I think those of us that have been members here for a long time are just very proud of the history of the church, and what we have done to make Sidney a better place to live in," said Mary Plummer, chairman of the board for the church.

For the past 20 years, Pat Robinson has been the pastor of the church, delivering over 1000 sermons during her time there. She says that delivering her last message in December, won't be easy.

"I do know that I will have a box of Kleenex on the pulpit, because I will cry," said Robinson.

Through two decades of involvement with the church, she says she's seen many highs and lows within her congregation. Closing the doors, however, will be the hardest obstacle she's faced.

"There's a lot of stuff that happens that you deal with, and the only way you deal with it is because God stands behind you," said Robinson.

The 211-year-old church, she says, is just a building. For her, it's the people she's met that have changed her life.

"I won't miss writing a sermon every week or standing up and preaching it. I'll miss the relationships, because they're relationships I never would have had, had I not been here," said Robinson.

For Plummer, she's been a member of the congregation for 61 years. The church is a big part of her life, one that won't be easy to let go.

"When it's over and the door shuts for the last time, I'll probably fall apart," said Plummer.

While the church is a house, for Plummer, finding your faith will bring you home.

"The church is not the minister. Don't ever think that. The church is the church," said Plummer.

Despite the bittersweet closing, the church will be hosting two celebrations to honor their rich history. The first will be on December 8 at 10:30 a.m., and the second will be a concert on December 15 at 3 p.m.

The church plans to hold a special Christmas Eve service for the last time. The last service will be held on December 29.

Katie Jones

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