Hurricane Harvey dealt Salem Lutheran Church’s building a blow from which they haven’t recovered. This year they voted to sell their very valuable property in Southwest Houston and share space with Grace Episcopal Church just up the road.

Today was their last Sunday in this facility. We decommissioned the space with a complex mixture of tears, relief, memories, and hopes for this next chapter of Salem‘s life.

In my time as bishop, usually when a congregation sells the building they disband, even though we invite them to imagine being a church without walls. Director of Music Keith Weber said today, “I’ve always been told the church is nota building it is the people. Until this congregation voted for this, I had never seen it lived out.

The worship space fared well after Hurricane Harvey, but the entire rest of the building suffered flooding and structural damage. Nearly a million in debt, the congregation did not have the ability to put it all back together. The pictures below were all taken today.

We prepared for the last service here…

Pastor Marvin Havard had his game face on, but the feelings ran deep.
Visser has reclaimed their tracker.
Director of Music Keith Weber takes a moment to prepare.

When a church building is dedicated, prayers are said that the pulpit, font and altar. A similar process is done when a church is decommissioned.

One member was present who was baptized here in 1957.

Next week begins a new chapter of ministry with worship up the road a mile at Grace Episcopal, 4400 West Bellfort. With their debt paid off and resources in hand, the group is on the move. Stay tuned to see what the Spirit will do with this motley crew.