Last evening I attended a service at one of our local churches which is due to close next week. The congregation of Horizon Methodist Church, situated in Hunter's Bar on the west side of Sheffield, had taken the decision, after much heart-searching, to call time on the life of worship, service & mission in that place.
It was, some might think strangely, a joyous occasion. A congregation had gathered from across the city and packed the church to capacity, and the opening word from the Minister, Rev Gareth Jones, summed up the emotion evident in the place - "Wow!"
We sang; we reflected; we gave thanks and confessed; we looked back, let go and moved on. And the occasion had a certain poignancy for me, as I had not only preached in this church on a few occasions but, for a brief time back in 1987 when I lived in the YMCA that was situated just up the road from the church, I had myself been a member of the church (it was known as Endcliffe Methodist Church then) - the second of only 3 churches of which I have formally been a member. The first (my home church, Grove Road Methodist in Harrogate) closed sadly in 2009: now Endcliffe/ Horizon is closing, and with it another part of my past.
Yet we move on, praising God for all that is past, and trusting God for all that's to come.