Dear Members of First English Lutheran Church,
With deep and abiding sadness, I must reflect to you the decision of the voters to close our church. For many years Jesus has come to you in Word and Sacrament delivering to you the forgiveness of sins at First English. Jesus has accomplished many good things through you as a body, and sadly this ministry among us comes to an end. Regrettably, attendance and the support of this community together has waned and made keeping First English open unreasonable.
With this being said, we must determine the disposition of the material possessions of the church. Regarding any operating money or memorial funds that remain at the time of the closing, the voters must decide on their distribution. First English will distribute these funds to Word and Sacrament ministries within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. We cannot just distribute this money without acknowledging the truth that people gave of their wealth to proclaim Jesus according to the good and proper reading of scripture found in our church body. I would recommend to you the LWML, our Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Seminaries, our Lutheran Church Missouri Synod disaster relief fund, the district mission initiatives in Chili and Ethiopia. There are others, but this gives us a start.
Regarding the building, First English must determine if it will remain open long enough to try selling the property. If so, and we succeed, we must distribute the equity according to the above guidelines. If the congregation decides to close without selling the property, the assets will all transfer to the North Dakota District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The founders of our church determined that this would occur upon the church’s closing and memorialized this decision in our constitution.
Over the years, people have given gifts to First English for the purpose of furnishing the church. First English will make these furnishings available to current congregational members first. If after the congregation has had enough time to consider their wishes, these items will come available to the public. If you know of anyone outside of the congregation who might like any of our furnishings, you are welcome to communicate this reality to them.
Anyone who desires any of the furnishings of the church must submit the request in writing with the date, their printed name, and their signed name. All requests should include an indication of how and where the item will be used for people according the Gospel of Christ. This indication will increase the likelihood of the transfer of ownership.
These requests must be sent to our mailing Address:
First English Lutheran Church
c/o Rev. Matthew Tooman
P.O. Box 295
Fairmount, ND 58030
The deadline for requesting the distribution of an item is January 19th, 2024. On January 20th, First English will decide on all requests. Any furnishing removed apart from this process is theft (7th Commandment). All furnishings belong to First English until such distribution has been approved by the voters. Any items required for worship will remain in place until the closing service.
More important than the distribution of resources is your church membership. You need to attend church, and we, as a church, should effect your transfer to another LCMS church of your choosing. If you decide not to transfer to an LCMS church, you will receive a release. In that case, a transfer is not appropriate. If you intend a release from membership, your request will become effective immediately. All transfers will take effect after our closing service.
First English will announce any other future meetings regarding our closure in the Worship folders and on our Facebook page and Website. You are responsible for being informed.
I was asked if this can be reversed. To reverse this decision, the people of First English must prioritize God’s Word before the other priorities of life. As a church, we must repent and receive forgiveness. We must attend church together, receive God Word and Sacraments. We must support one another financially and encourage one another in the faith. We can reverse this decision at a voter’s meeting no earlier than after our next meeting.