Area churches downsizing, raises concern

    Diocese of Springfield weighs in on lawsuit filed against all Illinois Catholic dioceses. (File)

    First Baptist Church in Springfield is downsizing and it's not the first.

    This move now leaves one question for some local residents: Where is the future of religion heading?

    "Yes less people are coming to church and that's a big factor," Wendy Link said.

    Wendy Link, trustee and a seven-year member of First Baptist Church, said it saddens her but they just could not keep the place running, so they are now moving to a smaller location.

    “There are a lot of memories here and some people are very emotional towards it," Link said.

    Churchgoers, like Samantha Ackerman, recall going on Sundays as a little girl.

    "Stand up, sit down, sing, the hymnals were my favorite part," Ackerman said.

    Samantha’s family doesn’t go to church as often as they used to but they do teach their kids about Christianity, she feels there are fewer people attending their local church.

    "People aren't going to the churches, there's a lot more podcasts and YouTube videos and churches online than actually going to the facility," Ackerman said.

    Religious websites said between 6,000 and 10,000 churches in the U.S. are dying each year. That means around 100-200 churches will close this week and some of it is due to declining attendance.

    "It is happening a lot and people are not racing to church to find answers like they used to," Link said.

    For now, Wendy and the church are relying on their faith to show them the next way in their journey.

    "We're not done, we're hoping we'll have lots of new people there and that the lord will bless us greatly," Link said.

    Over its past nearly 170 years as a Baptist church in Springfield, the church has relocated four previous times.

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