April 06, 2012
(Submitted by Heidi N. Chamberland, District Superintendent, CTWMA District)
WHEREAS the Great Barrington United Methodist Church, located in Berkshire County, Great Barrington, Massachusetts has a long and proud history of mission and ministry since the late 1700’s where George Whitfield and Frances Asbury preached the Good News; and
WHEREAS in their ongoing efforts to be faithful to God and responsible to their obligations they have had a ¼-time appointment with under 20 in worship in recent years and have prayerfully discerned they are no longer able to continue; and
WHEREAS the congregation explored options through a “possibility study” ( ¶213), including merger; and
WHEREAS at a special Church Conference held on November 20, 2011, after long and faithful service the members gathered voted unanimously to close the church and declare its properties “abandoned” in accordance with ¶ 2548 of the Discipline turning the property and all assets under the care of the trustees of the New England Conference effective December 31, 2011; and
WHEREAS the final service of celebration and de-consecration was held on December 29, 2011; and
WHEREAS the Great Barrington UMC has a long history in the community, is committed to mission and social justice ministries and is aware of the changing demographics and increasing needs of the greater Great Barrington area; and
WHEREAS the members of the Great Barrington UMC unanimously recommend the New England Conference explore redevelopment options for a new United Methodist ministry in the greater Great Barrington area within the next 3 years using all of the assets remaining; and
WHEREAS the CTWMA District Church Building and Location Committee, the NEAC Director of Congregational Development and the Cabinet also support redevelopment exploration within the next 3 years; and
WHEREAS the Great Barrington UMC members voted unanimously that if a strategic plan for redevelopment has not been approved by all parties necessary along with the presiding Bishop and the majority of the District Superintendents by July 1, 2015 they direct all assets to go to Hebrews 11 Fund for congregational development with the New England Conference.
WHEREAS the District Superintendent has recommended Abandonment of the Great Barrington UMC effective December 31, 2011 and the Discontinuance effective July 1, 2012 and has received consent from the presiding Bishop, a majority of the District Superintendents and all proper Disciplinary requirements have been followed;
BE IT RESOLVED that the Great Barrington UMC be declared discontinued effective July 1, 2012; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Great Barrington UMC directs (with the affirmation of the District Superintendent, the CTWMA District Church Building and Location Committee, the NEAC Director of Congregational Development and with the support of the Cabinet) that the NEAC trustees dedicate all real, personal, tangible and intangible property assets (including assets from the sale of any property) minus any outstanding financial obligations be held in trust in the Hebrews 11 Fund earmarked for restarting ministry in the Great Barrington area for 3 years; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that through the NEAC office of congregational development (working in consultation with the NEAC trustees, the CTWMA District Superintendent, and the CTWMA District Church Building and Location Committee), exploration of the viability of new ministry redevelopment in the Great Barrington area will be determined following Discipline guidelines and conference policies with final approval of a strategic plan to be approved by the presiding Bishop and a majority of the District Superintendents; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if a strategic plan for redevelopment has not been approved by July 1, 2015 in the Great Barrington area, all assets being held in trust earmarked for redevelopment be released to the general Hebrews 11 Fund for congregational development within the New England Conference in compliance with the Book of Discipline and New England Conference policies.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that should any assets be discovered in future years, such assets shall be transferred to the New England Conference to be used as directed by the Discipline and the New England Conference policies.