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Central United Methodist Church in Brookside closes after 178 years

Church of the Resurrection to open in its place
Stained glass at Central United Methodist Church during the congregation's last service in Brookside.
Posted at 4:55 PM, Sep 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-25 22:55:33-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Robust notes from the radiant organ at the helm of Central United Methodist Church reached the rafters Sunday morning as congregation members filed into pews.

All the pomp and circumstance were warranted as the morning marked the close of the church, KC's oldest Protestant community, in Brookside.

“They made a hard decision to end themselves so something new can begin,” said Rev. Sally Haynes of Central United Methodist Church. “The weightiness of that decision and self-sacrifice, I admire that and honor that so much.”

After 178 years, the church voted to dissolve and become a part of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Preparation to reopen as Church of the Resurrection Brookside at Historic Central on Dec. 18, just one week before Christmas, is already underway.

“To me, it felt like they birthed us,” said Church of the Resurrection senior pastor Adam Hamilton. “To have a chance to come back and bring new life into this space was really exciting.”

Hamilton served as an associate pastor at Central United Methodist Church early in his career before joining his current congregation.

“It’s just beautiful coming around full circle for that,” Haynes said. “I am so excited for the future, but I am also feeling all the feels today. It is such an important legacy we have, and I love there is a future in this place, building on that legacy.”

Parishioners planning to walk back through the doors in a little over three months are looking to the past for hope.

Deborah Powell was born into the church community, lived through fires and floods in the historic building and wants to get back to a time when there’s standing room only on Sundays.

“We’re going to have a wonderful transition,” Powell said. “I think this will grow and blossom.”

Brandon Cummins says his family searched the metro to find a church home and will be returning when the doors reopen under Church of the Resurrection.

“I think we are most looking forward to getting new families in, making new friends, getting engaged with people and kind of growing our church experience a bit,” he said.

Tsevelmaa Gansukh moved from Mongolia to Kansas City to study at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. While she gets her master’s in business administration, Gansukh says she looks forward to seeing people her own age in the crowd.

“I hope more young people will come here and join us in the worship,” Gansukh said.

Haynes credits the closure to decades of a slow decline in attendance, saying the church made a proactive decision.

“It’s hard to turn a church around when it begins to decline,” Hamilton said. “There’s a whole host of factors that make it difficult.”

Hamilton says navigating COVID closures was a unique challenge, but he is confident they can grow the congregation in Brookside back to what it once was.