De Beque Community United Methodist Church closes after 126 years of faithful ministry

November 10, 2015
The Rev. Sione Tukutau, Superintendent for the Utah/Western Colorado District, and Rev. Rich Stoakes, of Grand Valley UMC, pose with the celebratory cake for De Beque UMC for 126 years of ministry. Photo courtesy Rev. Sione Tukutau
Story by the Rev. Rich Stoakes
Grand Valley United Methodist Church

Sunday, Oct. 25 was a sad and sacred day for the 50 or so people who attended the closing worship service at the De Beque Community United Methodist Church. Founded in 1889, the church had since been in continuous ministry to the De Beque community. Changing demographics within the community and dwindling financial resources caused the church closing.

Rocky Mountain Conference Transitional Ministry Developer the Rev. Deb Olenyik formed a closure team in July to guide the church through the difficult process of inventories, selling of furniture and other items, and finalizing the legal papers. Members of that team participated in the closing worship service Oct. 25. Rev. Rich Stoakes, pastor at Grand Valley UMC in Parachute, Colorado, provided pastoral leadership and guidance over the past few months, and also coordinated the closing service.

Sub-district lay leader Sue Yeager offered a responsive reading from Ecclesiastes 3, Rev. Ken Carlson and his wife Cathy sang an original vocal composition by Ken that paid tribute to the church’s history, and Rev. Alane Currier Griggs led the people in a liturgy of thanksgiving. Chris Dean and Tom Meader were the last two active members of the De Beque church. Chris served as the liturgist and Tom read from Matthew 5.

Utah/Western Colorado District Superintendent Sione Tukutau shared a letter from Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, which was followed by open sharing from congregants. Stories were told, tears were shed, and laughter was heard. Rev. Tukutau pronounced the Declaration of Deconsecration and offered the pastoral prayer. The service ended with Tom Meader tolling the church bell for the final time.

Members of the Grand Valley UMC provided music and refreshments following the worship service.