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The Heart of Stone Church

When one member stonewalls growth and outreach, what is a church to do?

As he threw the church keys at the new lay leader, Jim (not his real name) angrily declared, "You'll never see me here again!"

Does he really mean it? I wondered as Jim stormed out in the middle of our board meeting. And if he does, how will we survive? Christ Church has had some tense moments in its 165-year history, and it has had near-death experiences more than once. Would this time, however, be the death of this struggling congregation?

Ours is one of the oldest churches in the state. The building, made of locally quarried limestone, seems transplanted from the English countryside of the founding members, hence its nickname, "The Old Stone Church."

A cemetery anchors the hillside down to the road, with the graves of many of the area's earliest residents. It still is used today.

The church reached its high point in the 1890s just prior to mechanized farming. In 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, the bishop closed the building and dissolved the congregation. A generous benefactor ...

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