Wilmington, NC — The NC Conference of The United Methodist Church announces the closure of Fifth Avenue UMC after over 170 years of faithful service to the community. This decision was reached after careful consideration and prayerful discernment and is due to declining membership and the local community’s clear, present, and pressing needs.
The closure of Fifth Avenue UMC is a difficult decision but one made with the community’s best interests in mind. The building will offer a place to birth new ministries and house current ministries needing a home to serve the growing population of downtown Wilmington.
“While we do not regularly send out messages about closed churches,” a spokesperson said, “due to the divisive climate in The United Methodist Church right now, we wanted to be as transparent as possible about this changing missional opportunity.”
In a time when churches across the country face similar challenges, many find new ways to thrive in the face of adversity. The NC Conference will pursue opportunities to continue serving the community meaningfully through this location.
“While the decision to close Fifth Avenue UMC was not easy, we are committed to ensuring that the legacy of the church lives on through this rebirth,” said Rev. Tara Lain, Harbor District Superintendent. “We are grateful for the leadership and church members who have faithfully served over the years. We look forward to starting a new chapter focusing on outreach, service, and community engagement.”
The NC Conference expresses its deepest gratitude to the community for supporting Fifth Avenue UMC these many years. It looks forward to serving alongside them in new and meaningful ways to continue its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
About the North Carolina Conference
The North Carolina Conference is one of 54 conferences of The United Methodist Church in the United States. It encompasses 56 counties in eastern North Carolina, from Elon to the coast and from the South Carolina border to the Virginia border. The conference strives to create healthy congregations and effective leaders in every place, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Learn more about the NC Conference at nccumc.org/about.
Rev. Tara Lain
Harbor District Superintendent
Frequently Asked Questions
What will happen to the members?
When a local church closes, the future care of any remaining congregation members is a primary concern. We want all who feel called to continue with us to join us as we rebirth this space. However, we understand that some may wish to refrain from doing so.
We also want to honor the members’ dedication to The United Methodist Church at Fifth Avenue. If any have a loss, this space is available for them as their family plans services for their loved ones.
The district superintendent is responsible for helping those who wish to relocate their membership to another United Methodist congregation.
Who decides what happens to this property?
The NC Conference Board of Trustees.
Is the Conference planning to sell the property?
The NC Conference has no plans to sell this property. We plan to repurpose it to meet the Wilmington community’s clear, present, and pressing needs.
What are the immediate plans for the space?
We believe this will be a rebirth where the location and church space can meet basic needs for unsheltered people, become a gathering space for senior adults and persons with disabilities, provide shelter and assistance following major storms, and be a welcoming space for worship and study for one or more new United Methodist faith communities. The location of the Church property is well-suited to meeting these missional needs of the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.
What is the Trust Clause?
The United Methodist trust clause is a statement in legal documents (deeds) declaring that the property and assets of a local church or United Methodist body are held “in trust” for the benefit of the entire denomination. The trust clause ensures that United Methodist property will continue to be used for The United Methodist Church.
It reflects the connectional structure of the Church by ensuring that the property will be used solely for purposes consonant with the mission of the entire denomination as outlined in The Book of Discipline (the denomination’s law and policy book). Learn more at umc.org.