Many main stream denomination congregations are losing members as the result of many contributing factors. Congregations close weekly and there is no further witness from that congregation felt in the community. But some congregations have sought ways to extend the life of a congregation and its effects on and contributions to its community. Sometimes nearby congregations from the same denomination choose to merge and sometimes congregations of different denominations merge.
In the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, three parishes in the Blue Water area of Michigan have chosen to merge. All Saints Episcopal in Marysville, St Paul’s Episcopal in St Clair and St Mark’s Episcopal in Marine City are merging into one combined parish, temporarily named Blue Water Episcopal Church. The Revd Dave Vickers has been called to serve and guide the new parish.
The new parish is scheduled to begin its existence on 5 MAR, the First Sunday during Lent. Two services will be held at 8 am and 10 am at the St Mark’s property. Two services are scheduled to be held at each of the other properties on subsequent Sundays during Lent. Then two services will be held on Easter Sunday back at St Mark’s.
Currently the Revd Vickers is leading the combined congregation as it explores its options with regard to a permanent home for the parish. That decision could be to choose one of the current properties and remodel it for the needs of the new parish or to buy property and build a new building.
One of the assets of what should prove to be a successful merger is that these three parishes have a history of shared ministry. They are not strangers to one another, and a combined parish, which was studied for over two years, became the logical way to continue the life and presence of the Episcopal Church in the BlueWater area.
I think it’s an opportunity to redefine and reconsider who we are as Christians and Episcopalians. It’s a time of change in our world politically and economically … and we are hoping to contribute to a fuller way of living. How do you live your faith in the new world we’re in? How do you do that?
– The Revd Dave Vickers