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Published November 20, 2011, 07:15 PM

'A Real Heartache:' New Rockford, ND, Church Has Last Service After 124 Years

NEW ROCKFORD, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The United Methodist Church in New Rockford has been holding Sunday services for 124 years. But Sunday marked the last one.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

NEW ROCKFORD, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The United Methodist Church in New Rockford has been holding Sunday services for 124 years.

But Sunday marked the last one.

Every pew in the United Methodist Church was packed for the morning's service, all here to pray and say their goodbyes.

"'It's not the way it's supposed to be' we say. The church that we have to come to know and to love is to be no more," pastor Dale Emery said.

The church was established in 1887 and had a century of strong membership.

Over the last few decades, church membership declined and expenses have increased.

A regular Sunday service looks a lot different than this Sunday's.

"We were averaging anywhere from 16 to 20-some members on a Sunday and that was not enough to meet our budget," church member Joan Heckaman.

Heckaman says disbanding the church was the responsible thing to do. And so was holding this last service to give community members a chance to share memories made here.

"See the last one I guess is the reason for it. They have all connections here," church member Charles Richter said.

Richter, a life-long church member, was married in the church in 1950. Most of his family and friends were there to show their support.

"It's been wonderful, it's been great to see old friends come back, but at the same time a real heartache," church member Charlie Evanson said.

Not all the news is bad, as the church building will be used by a local art group for plays and concerts.

The inside look of the church will stay much the same and could still be used for weddings and funerals, but people like Richter will now have to look for another house of worship.

"My age, you know I would prefer not to have this happen. Life goes on, so we are going to accept it," Richter said.

The piano and organ is being donated to the Faith Methodist Church in Minot, which was destroyed in this year's flooding.

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