I’m in the throes of a wedding. But it’s not the kind with a bouquet and a veil.
This is a marriage of two churches. A marriage of convenience.
First United Methodist and Grace United Methodist churches, both in Texas City, have both shrunk in membership to the point they can’t sustain themselves financially. At this time, we share a pastor.
In spite of everything sacred, churches have to be financially secure.
Members of planning committees and governing committees from both churches have been meeting and planning and working out all the details.
They assure the rest of us that everything is going to work out well.
We’re trying to trust them. But I admit, I have a few qualms.
Firstly, we’re all leaving the big, beautiful First, more than 100 years old and filled with memories and pageantry.
We’re moving to the smaller Grace, which will be much, much easier to sustain, we hope and pray.
But except for the bunch who’ve met regularly and gotten acquainted, few of us know few of them. We have to get acquainted. We will probably need name tags. Will we know all the right hymns? Will we, who teach Sunday school, still be able to lead a class? Pass the plate? Sing in the choir?
I have a vision, admittedly distorted, where I go in the new church and sit down in somebody’s else’s pew. Will that be a bad mistake?
Of course, I’m not giving them credit for being as loving and pleasant as they probably are. Shame on me.
What are we going to call this new church? That’s one of the current questions among our membership, some of whom have filled out little suggestion cards.
A new church ought to have a new name. First Grace United? Grace First United? Maybe not. Some of us, thinking to attract some people who may not be familiar with the Methodist branch of Christianity, have talked about putting the word “Methodist” in very small letters under the new name.
That might attract some of the independent thinkers who are happier with independent congregations. I, personally, have come to the Methodists from an independent group.
Faith Bible, of which I was a charter member, began life as a non-denominational or interdenominational (if you prefer) church. Much later, we joined with the Evangelical Free Church, of which there are few in this part of the country. We later fell apart.
As I hope for all marriages, I’m hoping this will be a happy one.
And considering all the care and prayer that has gone into the planning, I think it will be.
The last service at First is May 16. Everyone who has ever been involved there is invited.
The first service at what is the present Grace is May 23. Everyone interested in a new and wonderful beginning also is invited to be there.
And may God bless us all.