By Pastor Williams in November Atonement Chimes Call
Although there are undoubtedly many questions in both congregations [Atonement and Our Savior’s] about bringing our two congregations together as one, on the Atonement end of the partnership, there have been amazingly few objections. (That doesn’t mean there aren’t any, but few of them have risen to the ears of the pastors.) By the time that you read this, you should also have a document in hand which seeks to answer most of those questions.
At this point the plan is to have our congregations begin worshiping together on a weekly basis beginning January 5, which we will celebrate as Epiphany Sunday. We plan to continue worship services at Our Savior’s on the fourth Sunday of the month during the transition period, in the hopes of easing this difficult period for the Our Savior’s congregation.
There will be a question and answer time on November 17 in Fellowship Hall at 9:45 a.m.
Atonement has been fortunate in that while many congregations have experienced devastating losses, ours have not yet substantially impacted us. We have had losses, and substantial ones (mostly we just haven’t been able to replace our members lost by death) and you can feel those losses, but they haven’t brought us to a place where we have lost either viability or vibrancy. Still, this is a step to help support both our ability to continue in Jesus’ mission and to be healthy and alive as we do so.
Our member David Kohl, in a study he did many years ago, found the following to be true about Atonement: for those who are central in the congregation, Atonement seems like family — warm, hospitable, and home. But for those who are on the outside, we are often perceived as cold and unwelcoming. That probably remains true. Atonement has many truly wonderful people, and if you are blessed to know them, they welcome you into the embrace of the congregation. But as we move to become one with Our Savior’s we must be very intentional to make room for them. We must embrace them into the heart of our new congregation. That is the gift that Atonement can give to the people of Our Savior’s, who are grieving the loss of a home they have long loved. They will bless us, but only to the degree that we open our arms to each other and become one.