From the June Chimes Messenger
What’s happening as our two congregations continue toward greater partnership? At this point the Our Savior’s church office has moved entirely to Atonement. It is located in what used to be the Sunday School office directly across the hall from the Atonement office. Work is being shared between both offices.
The Spark program has moved to Atonement and work has begun to bring the program into alignment with Atonement’s Tower Homework center. We have noted a modest increase in the number of kids using Spark. There is a worship service that is open to all, though aimed at children, on Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m.
Harbor Rock Tabernacle is using the mansion exclusively at Our Savior’s and has made modest (and reversible) changes to the sanctuary for the benefit of their worship services. The food pantry and the two meal sites continue to operate at Our Savior’s. The income from Harbor Rock is making a substantial difference in helping the congregation to maintain the Our Savior’s building.
The biggest news, with regard to our two congregations, is the creation of a covenant to guide our relationship with one another. Because the FaithWorks partnership may be moving toward a full merger of all of our congregations, it was decided that an actual full merger of Atonement and Our Savior’s at this point would be premature. There is a substantial cost, both financial and human, to merger, and it was felt that to do two consecutive mergers would be a foolish expenditure of our congregations’ capital. At the same time, it has been strongly suggested that our congregations need to function more like a single congregation and that a covenant be established to help make that happen. A committee consisting of leaders from both congregations was established, and they have created a draft covenant which, by the time the newsletter reaches members, should have been vetted through the councils.
Here are some of the highlights:
- We will in this interim period use the name Atonement — Our Savior’s.
- We will continue to worship together, care for one another and hold each other in prayer.
- We pledge respect to each other and promise openness to new ideas and flexibility in our will and ways.
- We promise to share our resources for the sake of God’s mission and ministry.
- A joint council, consisting of duly elected congregational council members from each congregation will manage the common ministries and staff of our joint congregation while maintaining a separate existence to legally deal with issues unique to each congregation.
- All materials normally distributed to the congregational council members will be distributed to the joint council.
- Each congregation will maintain ownership and responsibility for their own property.
- By approval of the covenant, the Our Savior’s congregation will officially call the pastors of Atonement to serve as its pastors.
- Prior to approval of the covenant, the Bishop’s office of the ELCA will be asked to review and approve its provisions.
- A two-thirds vote will be necessary to approve the covenant in both congregations.
It is hoped that the covenant will be before the congregation by the end of the summer.