from the January Chimes Call

It is exciting to become something new, and God is indeed taking two congregations and making us new. But change is sometimes difficult and even painful. That is particularly true if the change is outside of your control.

150123-2689atonAs Our Savior’s and Atonement have shared space and worship these past two years, Our Savior’s has been in an extended time of grieving. First they lost worship in their own space and with it some autonomy. They gave up a more fluid worship style for Atonement’s more formal style. (Though in 2016 worship leaders are looking at one service per month that will be more informal in style.) While most of the worshiping body from Our Savior’s came over to Atonement, not everyone did, and so there were losses there as well. Now, with the sale of the Our Savior’s building, there is another loss…a permanence to the direction that the congregation has been heading.

For the Atonement part of the congregation there has been little by way of loss. In fact, all Atonement has had to do was accept the wonderful Our Savior’s congregation to be a part of the community.

But now, with the choosing of a new name, there is a loss. And the Atonement congregation has responded with understandable grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined five stages of grief upon learning of a loss. Although the stages of grief do not always proceed in an orderly manner, they often follow a consistent pattern. First denial. The choosing of a new name has been talked about for a year. Little was said about it to the Consolidation Team. One has to assume that much of the Atonement congregation just ignored such talk as unlikely, many were in denial.

The second stage is anger…we’ve had that too. “How dare you talk about taking away a name that has been with us for 106 years?” Then the person grieving moves to bargaining. “Well, maybe if we can’t have Atonement we could have Atonement Our Savior’s. That’s fair for everyone.”

We don’t know what the results of the final vote will be but should a new name be chosen the next step is depression. It is normal when suffering a loss to feel the pain of that loss, that is both appropriate and healthy.

Finally, in emotionally healthy people, there is acceptance. The Consolidation Team asks that the Our Savior’s portion of our congregation be patient with the Atonement portion. They are experiencing a bit of the grief that you have felt in the past two years. Give them a little time until they come to acceptance.

The Consolidation Team is determined to use a democratic process in the choosing of a name for the new congregation. After several rounds of voting the choices have been narrowed down to two: Atonement Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and Living Faith Lutheran Church. Interestingly the congregation was evenly split between the two names with the last round of voting, each receiving 82 votes (with New Life Lutheran Church receiving 21 votes.) A simple majority will choose the name.

The Consolidation Team has decided to delay the vote until after the Consolidation vote, as the name has become a distraction to the much more important issue of consolidation.