Brookside’s Central United Methodist Church closes after 178 years

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Robust notes from the beaming organ at the head of Central United Methodist Church reached the rafters Sunday morning as members of the congregation lined up in the pews.

All the pomp and circumstance was justified as the morning marked the closing of the church, KC’s oldest Protestant community, in Brookside.

“They made the difficult decision to end so something new could begin,” said Reverend Sally Haynes. “The weight of that decision and that self-sacrifice, I admire that and I honor that so much.”

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

Preparation for reopen as the Church of the Resurrection Brookside at Historic Central on December 18, just a week before Christmas, is already underway.

“To me, it was like they gave birth to us,” Church of the Resurrection senior pastor Adam Hamilton said. “Having the chance to come back and breathe new life into this space was really exciting.”

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

“It’s just beautiful to come full circle for this,” Haynes said. “I’m so excited for the future, but I’m also feeling all the thrills today. It’s such an important legacy that we have, and I love that there’s a future in this place, making it happen. building on this heritage.

Parishioners planning to walk through the doors in just 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 return to a time when there was standing room only on Sundays.

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

Brandon Cummins says his family searched the subway for a church house and will return when the doors reopen under the Church of the Resurrection.

“I think we’re looking forward to welcoming new families, making new friends, engaging with people and expanding 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 earning her master’s degree 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 worship,” Gansukh said.

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

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

Hamilton says navigating the COVID closures was a unique challenge, but he’s confident they can bring the Brookside congregation back to where it once was.

Jerry B. Hatch