'Church on the River' comes to an end
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A beloved worship service ended Sunday as the "Church on the River" held its final service.
For the past nine years dozens of people sat on the steps near Joe's Crab Shack, along the Ohio River, every Sunday morning.
Now, they're going to have to find another place to worship. Not many people can say they've gone to church so close to the water. However, Sue Upton and her daughter can.
"I've been coming here probably the last couple of months," Upton said.
The wind off the river makes it pleasant to be outside as people listen to Christ Ministry's Waterfront Worship Service.
"Rain, or shine, we meet," Upton added.
So when they were told that they will no longer meet on the steps, Upton says she was devastated.
"For my life, it's a reprieve, it's hope," she said. "It's hope that things are going to get better and to never give up, so if this is taken away imagine how many people will be affected."
The ministry, on top of leading service, also helps those in need by distributing food and essentials to everyone who comes.
However on Monday, the Waterfront Development Corporation and the ministry agreed that Sunday would be the ministry's last day of service after issues with garbage in the area.
"Sandwich bags being blown around that they're having to clean up and pick up; whether it's all from our ministry or other people in the park I have no idea," said Butch Louis, founder of Christ Ministry and the man behind the Waterfront Worship Service. "With our stance we just had to accept that."
What he means by his "stance" is that the WDC has been forgiving for the past five years or so. The WDC never asked the ministry to purchase a permit and have been patient about the garbage issues.
David Karem, the executive director of the WDC, says Louis has always been great to work with. Last week, after a particularly littered Sunday, Karem reached out to Louis once again about the issue.
That's when Louis said to Karem he was already planning on retiring from the ministry by the end of August. Louis asked Karem if he could have one last service Sunday to let his congregation know they will no longer be meeting. Through mutual agreement the last day was determined to be Sunday.
According to Louis members of his ministry, as well as volunteers, have cleaned up the area they best they can. However, he says things may fall through the cracks.
"Whether we get blamed for everything or not, I'm not going to make accusations or speculate," Louis said. "There's a lot more to meeting on this waterfront than what's seen visibly."
"They actually care!" Upton said, referring to the invisible kindness. "They don't throw money and want you out of their face. They talk to you and ask you about your life, where you come from, where you are going."
As for where the congregation is going? They're leaving it up to faith.
"It's been a privilege to serve here and I might just see what the Lord has plans for our future," Louis said.
Copyright 2016 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.