WHITESBORO — The interior of St. John’s Episcopal church was quiet and solemn Wednesday, already dressed for Sunday’s Pentecost celebration.

While the congregation will be celebrating one of the more important days in the Christian liturgical calendar, they also will be mourning their final service as a church after nearly 165 years.

“We’ve had baptisms, weddings and funerals, all from my family, right here,” said Patricia Malott, the church's junior warden. “It’s a very emotional time.”

The church, which was built in 1855, has always been small, Malott said, adding that an aging congregation had something to do with the closing.

But they’ve always been tight-knit, with members bonding together in difficult times.

“I’ve got 42 years under my belt,” said the Rev. Michael S. Jones, “and this is the sweetest parish I’ve ever been in.”

After the final Mass, the church will be stripped of any holy objects, Jones said, and donated to churches that need them.

“(Donating church property) is hard,” Malott said. “And I know other churches may need what we have here, but that’s reality.”

The church will donate the money they have left to numerous local organizations, including veterans and Hall House, a domestic violence shelter in Utica. Malott said the amount is roughly $8,000.

“It’s sad, but we move on,” Malott said. “And it makes us (stronger people) knowing that (our) faith in God is always there.”

That doesn’t mean the church’s final days will be dour. The church had an appreciation dinner for its members Wednesday night, and they’ve invited neighboring churches to Sunday’s ceremony.

“When Jesus was on the cross he said ‘It is finished,’” Jones said. “People read that (as a failure). No, it is accomplished, that’s what it means.

“And this place is not going to die with a whimper, we’re going to have a big party.”

Contact reporter Joseph Labernik at 315-792-4995 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Labernik).