“People are saying that we’re moving to a post-denominational time, that young people don’t care if you’re Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian,” said the Rev. T. Stewart Lucas, the rector of Nativity. “They just want good, authentic worship and service to those who are in need. So, in a way, we’re going back to the basics of studying the Word, praying together and serving together, and I think there are lot of people who are hungry for that message.”
Each church was struggling to survive, with declining membership and challenging finances, and the hope is that other churches facing the same difficulties might see this as a possible solution.
[Holy Comforter’s pastor, the Reverend David] Eisenhuth said two years ago, a member of his church’s governing body took a hard look at the organization’s finances and forced them to confront the reality that they were on shaky ground. The building, in the 5500 block of York Road, had been built in the 1950s for a peak congregation of 3,000. Yet weekly attendance was down to about 150 people, he said. Nativity was also facing declining attendance and financial challenges.
Both churches have ethnically diverse congregations, and after some research on the part of Holy Comforter, the two congregations decided to merge.
Lucas said jokingly that the hardest part has been combining the two church kitchens, as some members are proud of their roles there. Worship will be combined using elements of both faiths, and the church leaders said there are many similarities among how Lutheran and Episcopalian services are held, so the combination didn’t seem like too much of a leap. Congregants and high-level church officials on both sides signed off on the change.
Read the entire story in the Baltimore Sun.
Photo: Episcopal Church of the Nativity.