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ERIE – One of the area’s oldest Protestant churches is closing just before its 175th anniversary.

In August, the First Presbyterian Church of Erie, 2029 Manhattan St., will announce the date of its final service. Two other farewell events have already been scheduled, including the opening of the church’s 137-year-old cornerstone time capsule.

April Killian, church member and historian, said the First Presbyterian Church is closing its doors because of a lack of members.

“We currently have only 14 members, nine of whom are active members. On Sundays, we are present between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on average. That’s really the only day we are in the building,” Killian said. “Too few members and not enough energy to continue.”

The church has not had its own pastor for several years.

“We have pulpit representatives: Elder Debra Davies of Tecumseh, Elder Diane Adams of Monroe, and from time to time we have Rev. Pamela Short of Camden here,” Killian said.

The date of the last service will be announced at a parish meeting on August 18.

“We will set a date for our final day and service,” Killian said. “The Maumee Valley Presbytery will take over the building once we have held our final service.”

The members of the church will find other churches.

“It’s an individual decision and most people haven’t committed yet,” Killian said.

During the Aug. 4 service at 9:30 a.m., the church will open its cornerstone time capsule, created by Mrs. JW Keeney’s Bible class in 1887, according to Monroe News archives.

“It was erected and dedicated on July 20, 1887. I’m not sure what condition the items will be in. That’s a long time for a cornerstone to go unopened. The Rev. Pamela Short will officiate the service,” Killian said.

New elements will be added to the foundation stone and then it will be closed again, Killian said.

There will be a sale at the church on July 13th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the Erie Food Closet of the Erie Council, Knights of Columbus. Almost everything in the building will be sold.

“There is a fully equipped kitchen: appliances, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, and tables and chairs. Anything that isn’t nailed down can be purchased,” Killian said. “Some items aren’t allowed. We won’t be selling anything from the nave, mainly because we’re continuing to hold services. There are lots of books; hopefully someone will be interested in what we have, otherwise the items will go with the church.”

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According to researcher Alonzo Sargent, the founding of the First Presbyterian Church of Erie dates back to 1830, when Methodists began meeting in each other’s homes. In 1833, a log cabin was built for worship and classes.

The First Presbyterian Church was officially organized on September 9, 1849. The current brick building was constructed in 1887. The land for the church and parsonage was donated by the Teal and Brigham families; the parsonage was built about 1882. A basement was dug by hand from 1909 to 1917. After the 125th anniversary, construction of an addition began.

A150th The anniversary celebration took place in 1999.

Contact reporter Suzanne Nolan Wisler at [email protected].