Schaumburg, Ill.Maranatha Baptist Church of Springfield, Ohio, will hold its final service on Sun., Jan. 18. Closing after nearly 60 years of ministry, the church will merge with another independent Baptist church in Springfield.

A local newspaper described the church as “a launching pad for numerous pastors and missionaries.”

John Greening, national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, expressed sadness at the closing. “Having ministered near this church for many years, I praise the Lord for the lives that were changed through Maranatha’s ministry,” Greening said. “I had some close personal ministry friends at this church and it is sad to see the church closing.”

Carol Teverbaugh, a long-time church member, is organizing a final tribute service for former members, pastors, and missionaries. “The spirit of God really moved in this church,” Teverbaugh told a local news reporter. “Many people were baptized and made decisions for Christ here.”

But attendance has recently dwindled to about 20, and the church is without a pastor.

“We’re just not the church of tomorrow,” said Marshall Whitacre, head deacon. “We have no children in Sunday School.”

Maranatha Baptist Church began in the fall of 1939 with a Bible study attended by eight couples in west Springfield. Aspiring to be “A Beacon Light for the World’s Sunset,” the church affiliated with the GARBC in 1947 and constructed a building at the corner of Sunset and Beacon streets in 1949. The church received a grant from Baptist Builders Club in 1955.

“Reality tells us that churches are born, grow, and sometimes close,” John Greening said. “The GARBC has a variety of ministries designed to help churches in every stage of this life cycle.”

Michael Nolan, director of Baptist Builders Club, said the GARBC program helps churches during struggling times by providing financial assistance, financial consulting, and prayer support. He also noted that Gospel Literature Services provides assistance with curriculum resources.

“If a church is considering closing their doors, they can contact Baptist Builders Club for assistance in making key decisions,” Nolan said. “We do everything possible to avoid closing, but if a church must close, we can arrange for assistance each step of the way.”