(Photo/KCAW/Katherine Rose)

The First Presbyterian Church of Sitka is beginning the process of closing its doors. The Daily Sitka Sentinel first published the news on Monday (2-26-18) after receiving a statement from church leadership Friday (2-23-18).

The statement cited an aging and shrinking congregation, and high cost of building upkeep, as the primary causes. The church will be dissolved  into a fellowship, and an “Administrative Commission” of church leaders will be tasked with the process of closing the church by September 30, 2018.

KCAW News visited the church on Sawmill Creek Road Tuesday to follow up on the story. However a representative declined further comment about the future of the church, which has been active in Sitka since the 19th Century. The Administrative Commission would reach out to the public again sometime in the coming weeks.

In recent months, the church, in partnership with a community homeless coalition, has considered using an existing building, a two-story dormitory structure, as a warming shelter for men. They were set to present their plans for shelter management to the City of Sitka planning commission this spring.  That project will likely be taken up by other partners as the closure proceeds. Likewise, Andrew Thoms, executive director of the Sitka Conservation Society says his organization will be looking for a new home for Sitka Kitch, a commercial-grade community kitchen that hosts classes for the public.