From the desk of Superintendent Michael Forney
The following letter was read to the Lakeview congregation during service on April 11th.
Greetings Lakeview Church,
Lakeview Free Methodist Church (formerly Green Lake FMC) has been a presence in North Seattle since 1894. In those 127 years, this church has been a vibrant part of the growth and life of what God was doing in the Church in Seattle.
Over the years, many people found at Lakeview a place to worship God, serve the community, and join a community of lifelong friendships. Many people responded to the Gospel and started their spiritual life with Christ here. Others were baptized at Lakeview and found a place to serve. Some of you were married here, raised your kids here, and perhaps some of you said good-bye to a loved one here. (Saying good-bye is never easy.)
For the reasons outlined below, it is the decision of the Pacific Northwest Conference Board of Administration to close Lakeview Free Methodist Church. The last public service will be a special celebration Sunday, April 25th, at 9:30am.
While this news is difficult to hear, we want you to know this decision came after much prayer, seeking God’s will, and through an honest look at the future viability of the society.
There is no explanation that will make the sting of this news any less painful. Nonetheless, here are some of the reasons.
Membership Decline: The membership at Lakeview FMC has been in decline for the last 20 years. This is not unique to Lakeview, many other churches across the nation have seen a decline in attendance and membership. It has dropped below the level needed to sustain a healthy society. In addition, during this COVID-19 season, several long-standing members decided they needed to find faith communities closer to where they lived once restrictions were lifted. In addition to the decline, the vast majority of the remaining members no longer live in the community but commute long distances to church making it difficult to reach the people that live in the ministry area of the church.
Building vs. Ministry Expenses: There are several costs such as insurance and utilities that are directly proportionate to Lakeview’s building size not the size of the congregation. This puts a disproportionate strain on the financial budget. Unfortunately, the area of the budget that has suffered due to these fixed costs has been ministry related funds. The average giving of members who have already left this past year, or will be leaving soon, equals about $2850/mo or $34,000+ annually.
In addition, there are many deferred maintenance costs that could quickly deplete the reserve account. The amount of money spent on building versus the money spent on ministry has become disproportionate to the size of the congregation and hindered its ability to invest in reaching the community.
Viability: All of these reasons make it even more difficult to find a pastoral replacement. Lakeview was blessed when the Lord provided the Lara family to come pastor the church for a part-time salary. For a Free Methodist Society to be viable and to grow, they need to be able to support a pastor full-time.
So what’s next?
Even though this is a necessary ending, we have much to celebrate and be thankful for as we look at the ministry that has occurred over the 127-year history of Lakeview. While this is an ending, it is not the end of the story. Jesus said,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
The missional fruitfulness of Lakeview and of those who have served and given to Lakeview over the last 127 years will continue to have missional impact in North Seattle for decades to come. The Pacific Northwest Conference will repurpose the remaining resources (assets and property) as a ministry hub for church planting in the north end of Seattle. We believe this will have the most significant impact on our city and for the glory of God.
We are so thankful for the gift of grace that the Lord provided for Lakeview over the last year and half in the Laras. They have served Lakeview and Jesus sacrificially and well during this time. We commend them for their diligence and hope you will show them love and appreciation in these final weeks of gathering.
We invite you to join in the ministry of one of the other Free Methodist congregations closest to where you live so you can actively engage in the life and ministry of the church. Our prayer is that you would find life and purpose within a new body of believers.
Superintendent of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Free Methodist Church
Other Free Methodist Churches in the area:
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Join us on April 25th
After 127 years of faithful ministry in NE Seattle, Lakeview Free Methodist Church will be closing its doors.
Join us on April 25th at 9:30am to celebrate what the Lord has done.
Plus, hear how God intends to birth new church plants and ministries from this location.
RSVP using the button below to save your spot.
(light refreshments will be served following the service)