Jason Lee UMC Ends Ministry and Seeds New Ministry
Jason Lee United Methodist Church, a congregation founded in 1910 in Salem, is ending its ministry this month. A closing service, celebrating its 106 years of service to God and to their community, will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, April 23.
The Reverend Dr. Jon Langenwalter, pastor, explained that declining membership and diminished energy of the remaining members has led to the prayerful decision that the congregation has accomplished its mission and needs to close. He is working with members of the congregation to plan the closing celebration and arrange for the future use of the building and its other assets. Preaching at the service will be Rev. Gwen Drake, pastor of the church from 1991-1997 and currently serving as Superintendent of the Sage District of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.
Six other churches in the “United Methodist Ministries of Salem and Keizer” [UMMSK] are assisting in this event by providing singers in a combined choir and helping with a free “bread and soup” supper after the celebration. Lay speakers will recall the church's Peace with Justice ministry, the “LUMPS” Fellowship group, and the Jason Lee Food Bank – which with the help of volunteer workers and contributors will continue to provide help for needy people in the community. Sarah Williams and Nadine Gilmore will provide piano & organ music. The choir will be directed by Dr. Kerry Burtis. Other special music will be provided by Abbe (Drake) Groh of Los Angeles.
After the official act of closure has been conducted by the Rev. Steve Sprecher, Cascadia District Superintendent, the remaining members of the congregation will transfer to other churches in the area However the historic building, built in 1912, will continue to be used. The Jason Lee Food Bank will maintain its regular hours. The New Life Bible Church [formerly the Slavic Baptist Church] will still use the building for regular worship and for youth activities. The parsonage building next door will provide short-term transitional housing in a program run by Oxford House. With the support of UMMSK, a new congregation, Las Naciones Hispania United Methodist Church, is being formed under the leadership of the Reverend Jorge Rodriquez and will use the Jason Lee building for worship and other activities.
Friends of the congregation are invited to join in this Worship Celebration at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 23. The church is located at the intersection of Fairgrounds Road, Jefferson St. NE, and Winter St. NE. The primary parking lot is south of the church on Norway St.
The current members of the Jason Lee UMC congregation, proud of their 106-year-plus legacy, have prayerfully discerned that the time for an ending has come. But they are also proud of their ability to contribute to new ministry beginnings. It is especially fitting that this transition is coming in the Easter season!