Windermere-Living Hope United Methodist Church (UMC) in East Cleveland, Ohio is facing potential building closure.
To date best practices for averting church closure have not been applied, nor has the UMC/ East Ohio Conference upheld its goal of increasing the number of churches through development of congregational vitality.
The processes utilized in moving the decision to close Windermere-Living Hope UMC forward have not included transparent communications, nor have they displayed an interest in working with the church to identify an alternative solution to closure.
The church is more than a building – it is a living organism representing individuals, families and community stakeholders within the City of East Cleveland. Church closure has a personal, individual and community impact.
Since 1899, Windermere-Living Hope UMC (formerly Windermere UMC) has strived to meet the needs of the East Cleveland, OH community through ministry efforts focused on spiritual formation and development; social service programming; and personal enrichment. Windermere-Living Hope UMC’s impact is evident from a history of parishioners involved in the Women's Suffrage Movement, to the church’s current role as a hub for ministry and community programming.
Annually, the church has served more than one thousand East Cleveland residents through a hot meals program and monthly food pantry in partnership with the Cleveland Food Bank; operation of a Summer Food Program in partnership with the Catholic Charities; and healthy lifestyle programs offered through association with the Cleveland Clinic.
To keep this beacon of hope alive in the East Cleveland community and to ensure a fair and due process for all proceedings related to any form of church closure, members of Windermere-Living Hope UMC ask that you support this cause and sign this petition to:
- Encourage church officials to develop clear policy and guidance for church closure that seeks to help churches assess, evaluate and address administrative and financial needs before closing them.
- Request that a 12-18 month action plan be developed in concert with the Windermere-Living Hope UMC to avert closure; employ best practices for development of congregational vitality; and to apply proven models for church sustainability.
- Push the United Methodist Church, East Ohio Conference to stay the course and stay committed to the goal of increasing churches in the Conference, rather them closing them.
- Persuade church governing bodies to find alternative solutions to church closure that offer technical assistance to enable congregational vitality through leadership training; financial resourcing; and capacity development efforts.
- Ask church leadership to look to God as their guide; to apply the same grace and mercy modeled by Christ, to the delicate circumstance of church closure.
Windermere-Living Hope UMC’s prayer is that by giving voice to the issue of church closure, other congregations facing similar dilemmas will also be helped.
Thank you for your support, and for spreading the word throughout your personal network.