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CT: Norwalk's Grace Episcopal Church To Close After 123 Years

CT: Norwalk's Grace Episcopal Church To Close After 123 Years
Grace Episcopal Church is to close its doors at the end of the month

by Alfred Branch
May 16, 2013

NORWALK, CONN - Financial woes have caught up to Norwalk's Grace Episcopal Church on Union Park, and is to close at the end of the month after 123 years.

The Rev. Lois Keen, who has been pastor at the church for the past seven years, made the announcement Thursday. The Norwalk church will hold its final service at 10 a.m. May 26, which will be presided by the Right Rev. James Curry, she said.

Keen did not disclose specific details about the church's financial situation that led to the closure. But in December, she said it cost about $1,000 per day to operate the 49-year-old building and parish. In addition to Keen's position, the church's expenses include maintenance, utilities, a part-time secretary and a part-time music director.

Since the financial crash of 2008, the church has struggled to generate income from its congregation, many of whom are retired and lost money through lowered pensions, 401(k)s and investments, according to Keen. At the same time, the demand for services increased, such as the English classes provided by Literacy Volunteers.

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few," parishioner Barbara Bancroft said in a statement, quoting the Gospel of Luke. The church has been a part of Norwalk since 1890 and has been at its current location since 1964.

Parishioners voted in April to close the church, according to Keen. Those remaining members will begin to worship at other Episcopal churches in the area.

Iglesia Episcopal Betania, which has also worshiped at the facility for the past three years, will continue to worship in the Grace Episcopal building on Sundays, said Keen. How long Iglesia Betania will remain in the Union Park location was unknown.

Stewardship of the property will revert to The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut in Hartford, according to Keen.

"My heart breaks as I think about having to go somewhere else to worship, but I know that I'll be OK because God is with me wherever I go," Carol Custus, clerk of the vestry, said in a statement. "Life is made up of stages, and now it's time for all of us to move to the next stage."


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