NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A church that has served a Newport News community for nearly 140 years will soon close its doors for good.
Saint Paul’s Episcopal church on 34th street is falling victim to a shrinking downtown Newport News and the shrinking number of people going to church at all in America, the pastor told WAVY.com.
Rev. Bruce Cheney said, “We’re just another sign of the times of churches getting fewer people.”
He sees about a dozen a week in the pews for Sunday service, but he sees more and more showing up at the door for other services.
Donna Casella and Wayne Wheeler are volunteers who help serve 1,200 meals a month from the kitchen. They say they serve mostly alcoholics, drug addicts and those just out of prison. “It is sad because I worry about the people who are in this downtown area,” Casella said.
Wheeler has been spreading the word that there are other places to get help and to give it. “Yea, I’m going to keep doing it – it’s my calling,” he said.
Still, it’s hard for Father Cheney to accept. He told his parish “as one door closes another opens.”
The diocese is sending him North to Denbigh, which is where much of the population migrated.
So, Cheney will walk forward in faith and something else. “There’s guilt; I don’t like it. Don’t like it a bit.”
St. Pauls will serve its last meal this coming Sunday and the last church service is scheduled for Sunday the 26th at 10:30 in the morning.