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The North Bend Eagle


Methodists hope lay pastor will help church stay open

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/6/06

The First United Methodist Church is getting a new leader, with lay minister Dorothy Smith filling the pulpit.

Dorothy SmithSmith

Rumors have been flying about the demise of the North Bend church, but Methodist officials say the hiring of Smith, along with the possible sale of its building, is meant to help keep the church alive.

“No decision has been made as far as closing (the church),” Prairie River District Superintendent Harold Backus said. “This is a less costly arrangement. With this new arrangement, it is hard to say what is possible.”

Smith, who began serving the church July 4, is a certified lay minister in the Methodist Church. The North Bend church will be aligned with the First United Methodist Church in Fremont, with Fremont ministers filling in when circumstances call for an ordained minister.

“We’d certainly like to see the Methodist church stay open in North Bend,” Backus said.

Backus said there has been talk of closing the Methodist church in North Bend but the lay minister approach will be tried first.

Backus also said that the church building in North Bend is for sale. Maintaining the building has caused financial strain for the small congregation. One church member said if the building is sold, the Methodists may look for another location to hold services, possibly in another church in town.

“The congregation is smaller and older,” Backus said. “The older building no longer suits their needs.”

Smith, 54, lives north of Hooper. The certified lay minister program in the Methodist church requires eight modules of education. Two have to be completed before being assigned a church. Lay ministers are used in churches with less than 20 members. At this time about 12 attend the North Bend church on a regular basis.

Smith has completed the two required modules and continues to study. She is employed full time at Hogemeyer Hybrids as a customer service representative.

The North Bend church is her first assignment and she is excited about the possibilities.

“This is not a hospice program,” Smith said. “God only knows the potential this church has.”

Smith said she has plans to try some new things beginning in August. One change is that the worship services will be at 9 a.m. Sundays. Smith will also be at the church on Wednesday evenings.

“We’re going to try to stir up some fun over summer,” Smith said. “This is not about ending, but about new beginnings.”

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