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Church Forced To Sell Building As Congregation Dwindles

MARYSVILLE (CBS13) — A church that began in the 1800s is now being forced to sell its sanctuary and property, downsizing as its membership has dried up.

When First Presbyterian Church first started in 1850, the congregation sat on bales of hay. It moved to a new location in 1950 and bells chimed every hour.

But the bells are now silent, and the church is closing down.

"It was very sad, very emotional on Sunday for us."

Pastor Rich Hinkle gave his final sermon at First Presbyterian Church in Marysville on Sunday. The church can't afford to keep him anymore. It's something he says is a nationwide dilemma.

"A couple dozen churches each week are closing in the US, and we are a part of that," he said.

The congregation can't afford the church either, and the building is up for sale.

"Religion is not as big as it used to be. When you were little, you were taken to Sunday school, and from Sunday school you joined the congregation," said Joseph Mcleod.

He and his wife joined the church in 1989.

"At one time there were almost 700 members of the church," he said.

That now hovers between 25 and 30.

"You start seeing that strictly a silver hair congregation," he said.

The church is also trying to sell its prized organ that was build in the 1800s and brought by ship to San Francisco. The price tag is $800,000 to $1,000,000 and an additional $200,000 to disassemble it.

The church's large, colorful stained glass windows are also up for sale.

As the congregation says goodbye to the church, the chapel, a rose garden and lawn where weddings and Easter egg hunts took center stage, Hinkle says it's not the end of religion. People are no longer seeking a sanctuary to be spiritual.

"The church building is not a destination point as it once was," he said.

The 20,000-square-foot church campus with four buildings has an asking price of $2 million.

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