January 29, 2007
An unlikely mergerI heard a great story on NPR the other day about two ELCA congregations in Evansville, Ind. that will likely merge this spring.
Peace Lutheran Church, a predominantly white congregation, and Grace Lutheran, a mostly African American congregation, had both fallen on hard times in recent years with declining membership. After Timothy Linstrom, Grace’s pastor, began filling in as visiting pastor for Peace, the councils of the two churches met and decided to try a joint worship service last summer. They tried it again a month later, and a month later, and have been worshiping together on a full-time basis ever since.
Members acknowledge a merger can’t take place without some contention and that “inevitable conflicts may arise.” But members say the churches will meld together the same way American society does, and will become “a grassroots multiracial Lutheran church.”
With so many ELCA congregations struggling today, it’s great to hear how some are moving beyond their comfort zones to create something new and different from what we typically see in Lutheran America. I think Martin Luther King Jr. would be pleased to see “11:00 on Sunday” not being the “most segregated hour in Christian America,” at least not in Evansville, Indiana.