• Friday, February 17th, 2017

When Finishing with Grace: A Guide to Selling, Merging or Closing Your Church was first published in 2011, we knew it was more leading edge than many in denominational leadership wanted to acknowledge. On one hand we received kudos for a well-written and thought-provoking book. But then we heard: “We have no problem of closings in our denomination. No way. No worries.”

That was then. This is now.
In June 2016,The Huffington Post reported that “Turnout in the United Church of Christ has dropped below a million; the Episcopal Church estimates its population at 1.8 million, down from three million in the 1960s; membership in the Presbyterian Church, USA, fell by 46 percent from 1965 to 2005 and the United Methodists have lost 4.5 million in their American churches since 1964. Recent surveys tell us that even in churches that are not closing, attendance is rapidly declining.”

Finishing with Grace is now more relevant than ever for congregations, lay leaders, clergy and judicatory personnel dealing with churches in transition.

Some decisions to close churches come from a church hierarchy, as in the many Roman Catholic churches closings in recent years. Other congregations find themselves running out of money, recovering from pastoral betrayal, or living in a rapidly aging, less-wealthy congregation.

Finishing With Grace does not advocate the closing of churches, but teaches congregations who are without other options how to move through this time faithfully. The book chronicles the process of making life-altering changes in your congregation and provides guidance for approaching the spiritual and emotional aspects of having to sell, merge or conclude your church‘s ministry. It offers practical help for dealing with your church’s building, staff, money and belongings. Vignettes highlighting specific events experienced by the authors are included as well.

Our book offers congregations a framework for the tasks before them, as well as the assurance that they are not alone.

Those in positions of leadership know better than anyone what a toll this is taking on faithful committed Christians who are desperately striving to keep their little church open and actively in service to the world.

The time for Finishing with Grace is now. Available from

Linda and Gretchen




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