Summary: As people of faith we need to be people of prayer but even more than that, people of breakthrough prayer, asking God to break through in situations where there is nothing else we can do. We need breakthrough prayer in our churches.
It was July of 2012 and was a sad day for me. In my first sermon here I told you about Elwood, my first appointment. Elwood was a nice, quiet, quaint little church in Madison County. A pretty stereotypical white framed country church on a quiet Farm to Market road. In the spring the pastures surrounding the church were covered in blue bonnets. Pictures of the setting look like a “Welcome to Texas” postcard. It was beautiful. In the two years I was there I grew to love that little church. I would like to think they loved me too. I learned so much serving as their pastor. Those folks taught me and they loved my family. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to begin my ministry. I had a Conference Board of Trustees meeting that sad day. In the first order of business I was elected chair. When we finished electing officers we turned to the business at hand, up first, the sale of several pieces of property, closed churches and now the Board had the responsibility of disposing of the property. It wasn’t something new. We review and sell property at most every meeting. But when I looked at the name of the first former church on the list, I froze for a second. Elwood. I felt my heart was being ripped out. We carried out the business before us and with a quick vote, we accepted the offer from the local cemetery association. Now, not only was Elwood no longer a United Methodist Church, its property no longer belonged to the denomination. Over 100 years of ministry now was a few thousand dollars in the Annual Conference bank account. I had closed churches before. Ironically, when I serving at Elwood, I “officially” closed the old Midway Methodist Church. When I was pastor at Lovelady, I “officially” closed the old Shiloh Methodist Church. This was different. I had no sentimental attachment to them. Serving on the Trustees I had been a part of selling closed church properties before but again, I had no real attachment to any of those. This was different. This past week my mind also wandered back to a youth trip. The kids at Canton wanted to go to the Hard Rock Café in Dallas. I was really surprised, and a little sad, when I saw that the Hard Rock Café in Dallas was housed in the former McKinney Avenue Baptist Church building. It had to have been a beautiful old building. It still was, particularly if you could see past the stained glass windows of Elvis and others where the chancel had once been. The bar that in the back of the former sanctuary. As I sat there eating my lunch, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the congregation who worshipped there. I’m still not sure but I do know the church no longer exists. When I started contemplating this series, my mind wandered back to these two events. As I was thinking I realized things rarely stay the same. The world changes. Even things change for the Hard Rock Café. The Hard Rock in Dallas moved to a former Mercedes dealership and the old church building is torn down, a high-rise taking its place. I makes me wonder, was anyone praying for the church before its demise? Was anyone at Elwood praying for its future? What about Midway or Shiloh? What about the many other closed churches our Board of Trustees has sold in the past? Here is an equally important question. Outside of the members, did anyone notice when the churches closed? And perhaps the most important question, if this church were to close, would anyone besides us here even notice?