Struggling Minn. church asks older members to leave

Published: Jan. 20, 2020 at 2:27 PM CST
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Cottage Grove, Minn. (Gray News) – In an effort to reach younger families, the Grove United Methodist Church is telling the old folks to get out.

The struggling church wants to build a new congregation with a more youthful bent.

“I pray for this church, getting through this age-discrimination thing,” William Gackstetter, one of those no longer in the target demographic, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The plan is to shut down the church in June and reopen a rebranded version, probably in November.

A church memo recommends older members stay away for a couple of years and then consult with the pastor if they’d like to rejoin. Most members of the congregation are over 60 years old.

“This is totally wrong,” Gackstetter’s wife, Cheryl, told the newspaper. “They are discriminating against us because of our age.”

The church averages about 25 people in worship each week.

There’s no full-time pastor. A member of the church delivers the sermon.

Regional United Methodist congregations are paying $250,000 to fund the restart.

A specialist in starting new churches has been hired.

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