BEACON FILE PHOTO EARLY DAYS — Ben Collins stands, in 2016, outside Collective Church’s original location at 111 S. Alabama Ave. in DeLand, the former home of the DeLand Sun News newspaper. The church had since moved into a beautifully restored Dreka Theater at 112 E. New York Ave., which the church also rented to other groups for meetings and events.

Collective Church is dead, head pastor Ben Collins announced in an email sent to members April 11. 

“Collective has been dying for some time,” Collins wrote, urging congregants to avoid an “autopsy.” 

Before its demise, Collective was a progressive and eclectic congregation in DeLand that organized 10 years ago under the umbrella of the United Methodist denomination, and focused on nonjudgmental inclusivity.

Pastor Collins declined to comment at length on the church’s demise.

”I think for now it’s something we need to do privately,” he told The Beacon in a text message. “Thanks for the grace and sensitivity.”

One supporter of the church, Bill McIntyre, told The Beacon, “The goodness and grace that Collective has contributed to our community will outshine the sadness of its loss.” 

It’s unknown what will ultimately happen to Collective-involved properties in the area, including The Dreka Theater at 112 E. New York Ave., where the church has had its services, and Amelia Plaza, home to McCabe’s, a popular package-liquor store and lounge at 225 N. Amelia Ave.

Apparently, programs and activities ongoing at the restored theater will continue. A counselor involved in a cooperative mental-health-counseling program operating there said she and her colleagues have been assured the program will continue.

“The building will continue doing what it’s doing, and hopefully more,” Collins told a group gathered for a Town Hall meeting at the Dreka Theater April 10.

All Saints Collective Inc. is listed by the Volusia County Property Appraiser’s Office as the owner of Amelia Plaza, and Collective United Methodist Church is listed as the owner of the Dreka Theater.

In a YouTube video set to folksy instrumental music, Collins, who has trained as a hospice chaplain, explained that the energy and clarity the community may have felt at Collective recently was, in fact, “terminal lucidity,” a term for the unexpected rallying before death that’s often experienced by the terminally ill. 

“Behind that terminal lucidity is a financial skeleton that can no longer bear weight, and atrophied hope for things like Sunday Soul Brunch. And though the heart is strong, like the Bible says, the church is a body and the body is more than any one part,” Collins said.   

Apparently, Collective Church had been terminally ill for some time. In a 2020 Beacon article, Collins said the church had felt the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of the more expensive property purchases were made in 2019, with the expectation that they would generate revenue.

“Just as every life inevitably comes to death, when there is no more time and there are no more resources, we could tell the story that time and resources have run out. But that’s a story of scarcity, disempowerment, and victimhood,” Collins wrote. “No, our time and our resources have not run out, but have run their course.”

The pastor urged members to attend a memorial service set for 6 p.m. on Good Friday, April 15.

 “Maybe some of you are confused, you are caught off guard — death is like that,” Collins said. “And for those of you who might feel displaced — the only antidote is friendship.”

The church’s memorial service will be at The Dreka Theater, 112 E. New York Ave. in DeLand.

YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT COURTESY COLLECTIVE

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you, Eli. We will all miss the symbol of Inclusivity Collective has been for DeLand. I am certainly missing the Sunday Soul Brunch, fabulous music, food and kind inspiration from Ben.

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