Easter Sunday Marks Final Day for Accomack Church - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Easter Sunday Marks Final Day for Accomack Church

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Belle Haven Presbyterian Church (Photo: WBOC) Belle Haven Presbyterian Church (Photo: WBOC)
Pews inside Belle Haven Presbyterian Church. (Photo: WBOC) Pews inside Belle Haven Presbyterian Church. (Photo: WBOC)

BELLE HAVEN, Va. - Easter Sunday will be the last service for the congregation at the Belle Haven Presbyterian Church.  The church will be closing its doors for good because of a dwindling congregation.

Empty pews are a common sight on Sundays at the Accomack County church that was built back in 1879.  However, it was a different story a few decades ago.

"I believe the highest number was in the 60's.  There were approximately 160 members," said Betsy Mapp, a trustee and elder at the church.

Today, the congregation stands at 19.  But 19 people don't show up for service on Sundays.  Church members tell WBOC the number is closer to 10.  There have been services with four people, and that includes the pastor and organist.  Those dwindling numbers are what led to the decision to close.

"There were not enough people.  The congregation has literally died," said the church's ruling elder, Nancy Adkins-Bunce.  "At one time, one family filled up three pews.  And they've all gone.  These days, the young people, 30 and 40-year-old's, they have a tendency to go out on the boat and not go to church."

Church elders said money was not an issue in the decision to close.  In fact, there was enough money through endowments to sustain the church for another 10 to 15 years.  Since the decision to close was made, that money has been donated to various different local charities.  The church itself has been put up for sale.  Each member of the congregation will receive a Bible and hymnal from the church pews.  And Easter Sunday will be the last service at the church.

Elders said the congregation has decided not to hold a celebration because it feels more like a funeral.  So, Easter Sunday will have a service just like any other Sunday.

"They wish not to have pomp and circumstance," Adkins-Bunce said. "They wanted to come in, have church, and just close the door."

Church elders said they hope the new owners of the building continue to use it as a church.  Or, at least in a way they can take advantage of the inspiration the building has provided to the community for over a century.

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