A historic Iowa church is permanently shuttering after failing to rebound following the COVID pandemic.

The First Presbyterian Church of Des Moines in Iowa is celebrating its final mass on Sunday before it permanently closes its doors after being unable to bounce back from the COVID pandemic. The church had been declining for years.

"We were declining and the pandemic killed us," First Presbyterian Church of Des Moines member Kathy Smith, told the Des Moines Register.

The church, which is nearly 170 years old, is offering "hymnals, Bibles, communion sets, sanctuary furniture, choir music, tables, chairs, dishes, kitchen supplies" for sale following the final service on Sunday. Some items will also be available to be picked up earlier. Meanwhile, the church property is expected to be sold to another church, business, or commercial developer, KCCI reported.

"It's really, really hard. As you can see, this is a beautiful place," Rev. Doug Basler, who led the church, remarked. He explained that the church, which had been operational since 1848, only has 40 members and that during the last service they held during the COVID pandemic had just 15 attendees.

"It was just hard for us to rebound and gain any momentum after the COVID year," Rev. Basler admitted.

The Christian Post reported that the First Presbyterian Church in Iowa was founded by John Stewart Dean in a simple log building right next to the Des Moines River, where the Simon Estes Amphitheater is located. As the congregation grew too large for the space, the church then held services in the Supreme Court Room in Iowa's "Brick State House," which was Iowa's Capitol Building from 1856 to 1882. In the early 1990s, the church founded in 1848 then moved to a building at East 12th and Maple in the city.

It was there where the 94 year old Mary Lou Aspengren, who is believed to be the church's longest-serving member, said she attended her first Sunday school session in 1938. However in 1950 a fire destroyed the interior of the church. It was then rebuilt, but forced to move in 1962 due to the construction of a freeway. The church moved to 31000 Easton Blvd., where it has been since July 1962.

"This is where people on any given Sunday might meet God in a very particular way," Pastor Basley, who joined the First Presbyterian Church of Des Moines just a year ago after moving from Washington state, explained. "The hope was once we started gathering together again we'd reconnect with some of the people who scattered during the COVID year. We just found that didn't happen."

Earlier this year, a Gallup poll revealed that only 49% of American respondents have formal church membership. This is the lowest recorded rate in the last 80 years, a stark contrast to the 70% rate of 1937. Additionally, data from the National Public Opinion Reference Survey conducted by the Pew Research Center from May to August 2021 showed that less than half or 45% of adults in the U.S. said they pray daily, a decline of 13 percentage points from 2007. In 2014, more than half or 55% said they prayed daily.