The day I visited Lucille to hear the story of how her church had closed, she started talking before I could even turn on my voice recorder. “We don’t know what all happened at the end,” she said. “We were never told where the stuff in the church went to—the pews and cross and things. Maybe they’re still in the building!” The not knowing had kept Lucille in a state of suspended grief—something like the way parents feel when they cannot locate the bodies of dead children. She refused to drive the main street through her hometown, where the church now stands empty. “I can’t go back there,” she said.
L. Gail Irwin is an interim minister in Wisconsin and the author of Toward the Better Country: Church Closure and Resurrection (Wipf & Stock). She blogs at From Death to Life, part of the CCblogs network.