David Mantor, pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Ind., says the decision to close the church resulted from falling attendance, membership and financing problems, reports The Herald Bulletin.
The church made national headlines in January when as much as eighty percent of the congregants left the church after a popular gay choir director was forced to resign, and a respected church lay leader was fired for his support of the choir director.
Article continues belowFormer choir director Adam Fraley worked at the church for six years and attended with his partner, but when a new minister took over, he said that he resigned because of pressure about his sexual orientation.
Dr. David Steele, a member of the church for nearly 60 years, was subsequently fired from his leadership position after advocating that Fraley be re-hired.
Steele says most of the congregants who left the church, including himself, never returned.
But Mantor says the closure “is not due to that situation whatsoever,” and cites statistics he says he’s seen from United Methodist Church headquarters that reflect a “downward spiral” of membership and donations across the whole UM church for the past 30 years.