THE historic Five Ways church was the site of the first Christian worship in Orange, but on November 11, it will hold its final service.
Orange’s three Uniting Church congregations – Five Ways, Wesley and St John’s, will host closure services in the coming weeks before they merge to become Orange Uniting Church.
Minister Andrew Cunningham said Five Ways and The 10am Project had decided not to continue and services would continue at the other two venues until a decision was made in the new year as to which would host services going forward.
“We want to be based in one place,” he said.
The Byng, March, Forest Reefs and Spring Hill congregations will also come under the Orange banner, but those churches will continue to host services.
Mr Cunningham said the move followed falling numbers of worshippers, tighter resources and a looming building maintenance burden.
“We’re covering our costs, but we’re trying to be careful and the margin is getting narrower so we want to make the decision now before we can’t cover our costs,” he said.
He described the Five Ways congregation, which averaged 10-20 people each Sunday, as close and very supportive of one another.
“It’s a lovely place, a very simple building with a real spirit of peace and joy about it,” he said.
“It was a hard decision, but a clear decision and once it was made, people were supportive because of the things they’ve built up and the need to continue the mission of the Uniting Church in Orange.”
The time between now and Christmas will be used to form a mission statement for the congregation’s ongoing activities, including youth and family programs, and assess the maintenance bill against potential future uses or possibly even selling assets.
Wesley Uniting Church in Anson Street is state heritage-listed, while St John’s on the corner of Sale and Kite streets and Five Ways are recognised on Orange City Council’s local heritage maps.
The Five Ways service of closure will start at 2.30pm, St John’s will hold its service on November 18 at 8.45am and Wesley’s will be held on November 25 at 10am.
A special service will launch the new congregation on December 2 at 9.30am at the Wesley church and the guest preacher will be Reverend Simon Hansford.
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