On Sunday, May 28, the Point Loma United Methodist Church at 1984 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. held its final worship service after 88 years at the same site.
The church opened in 1929, adding a new sanctuary in 1951 (the woman who was the first to marry in it is still a parishioner), and it has always been a community fixture.
But changing times, and a declining congregation, have teamed to set the Protestant church on a new course, said its current pastor, Melissa Spence.
“The church has done a whole lot of service within the community all those years, with youth groups of 50 or 60 providing a safe place for kids,” noted Spence adding, “But the church's congregation has dwindled dramatically. Going through this current merger, the hope is that we can still have a ministry in Ocean Beach.”
The plan is for the congregation to merge with First UMC San Diego in Mission Valley, with the hope that one of the worship services will move to Ocean Beach around the beginning of 2018.
Spence said the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank will be moving into the PLUM site once its vacated in August or September.
“We're looking at other ways to serve the community including a free medical clinic, possibly some free vet services, and a community garden, among others,” Spence added.
Concerning the merger for PLUM's congregation, Spence noted, “This provides them an opportunity for revitalization. Our plan is for the church not to close, and not to sell the property, but to join the Mission Valley congregation for a short period of time, then go back into OB as a larger, stronger revitalized group. We still want to be there doing service for the community.”
The PLUM congregation is taking a leap of faith that this change will revitalize their community and enable them to better serve OB in the long term.
Longtime PLUM parishioner Bill Joyce, who was married there in 1968 and whose children were married — and baptized there — as well, said he's on board with the move.
“Best thing is the merger allows the first church in Ocean Beach to continue to be a Methodist presence in OB with open doors, open minds, and open hearts to serve the changing demographics,” said Bill, speaking for himself and wife Barbara.