By Morgan Bryce
Opelika’s Pepperell United Methodist Church, located in the heart of the Pepperell Mill Village, will hold its final service this Sunday.
Established in 1926, the 92-year-old church is closing because of dwindling membership and insufficient funding, according to Rev. J.T. Mercer.
“The way the United Methodist system works, those kind of decisions are made by (the church’s local superintendent). But I know that making that this decision was very hard,” Mercer said. “A lot of the people that attend this church grew up in the mill village … and this I know this Sunday is going to be very tough, because there’s a lot of good memories there.”
Tommy Waldrop, a PUMC member since 1958, said he has had a difficult time processing the news since it was announced last month.
“I’ve really been dwelling on it, and I’m just not sure how I will react. But I’m sure there’s going to be some tears flowing, not only from me, but most of the people there,” Waldrop said. “It’s been wonderful, though, to be a part of this church. They’re just great people, wonderful friends … we’re more like a family than we are a congregation.”
This Sunday will feature an all-singing service led by former church members and the remaining “Pepperell Kids.”
“There’s a group of people who call themselves the ‘Pepperell Kids’ that will be here this Sunday. We’ll be doing a lot of singing, which is what they wanted to do to go out,” Mercer said. “They’ll be singing songs that they sung growing up when they were kids. It will be a good celebration of the time that Pepperell has had.”
The church’s fate rests in the hands of the superintendent, according to Mercer. He added that Alabama Rural Ministries, which currently operates out of the church’s basement, will soon move its offices to the church’s fellowship hall and remain there until a decision has been made.
This Sunday’s service is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. PUMC is located at 200 N. 26th St.