Toward the Better Country: Church Closure and Resurrection


book
by L. Gail Irwin. Resource Publications, 2014.

Drawn from interviews with clergy and lay leaders from over forty different churches in eight denominations, mainline Protestant pastor L. Gail Irwin has designed a group discussion guide around the challenging discernment process of closing a congregation. Uncovering and understanding what Irwin calls “failure to thrive” in lay leaders and pastors forms the meat of the book. A deeply pastoral examination of grief in closing congregations then leads to an exploration of new models for the people of the congregation to redesign their ministry, and ideas for how the buildings and assets of the congregation may be redirected in a legacy project to benefit other communities of faith. Examples of administrative resources such as merger and closure checklists from the United Church of Christ and Presbyterian traditions conclude the text with concrete examples of the types of documents and templates closing churches should seek out from denominational authorities.

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