IRONWOOD, Mich. (AP) — After more than 100 years, a Presbyterian church in an Upper Peninsula community is changing hands, the result of a shrinking congregation.
First Presbyterian Church in Ironwood was down to seven members, including two in nursing homes and two more people who go to Florida in the winter, said pastor Jack Fashbaugh. There once were more than 300 people.
"It had to do with the closing of the mines,” Fashbaugh told The Daily Globe. “When my wife and I first joined the church in 1992, there was already deep concern about declining membership. ... Then when I got into the pulpit in 2005, we were looking at a dire situation.”
The first service was in 1906 while the last inside the church was in 2018. Services were suspended for a time because of Fashbaugh's health and then the pandemic struck.
He said he lately has been visiting nursing homes in the area.
“We sing old hymns. I present a sermonette, and the residents seem to like it,” Fashbaugh said.
Faith Lighthouse, an evangelical church, will take over on June 1.