Grace Presbyterian Church 113 Hargrove Road, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 - PO Box 1234, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403 205-758-1193

Grace Presbyterian Church Blog

Merger Moment Sept. 25


September 25, 2016

Presented by Linda Grote

 I’m Linda Grote, and I am one of the representatives of University Presbyterian Church on the Merger Steering Committee. It is one of my assignments to chair the Subcommittee to write a Mission Statement for the Plan of Union for Grace Presbyterian Church. We did not begin work until after the name was decided upon, and we have had one meeting and will have another this coming Tuesday night.

Representatives from Covenant are Susan Benke, Brad Fisher, and Madeleine Hill; and representatives from University are Cathy Andreen, April Lane, and Patrick Sprunger. It is our intention to work to create a Mission Statement that will be completed for the Plan of Union, and, as has been the practice at both Covenant and University, that will be revisited periodically as needed by the congregation of Grace Church.

Regarding the progress of the Merger Steering Committee, we have a draft of the Plan of Union. It is still our intention to have the Plan of Union ready for the November 10 meeting of the Presbytery. That goal still seems attainable.

It is the custom of the Merger Steering Committee to do what we call “Check-In” with one another after the opening prayer. It is a time that we share with one another both our own and our congregations’ concerns regarding the merger process. Our check-in at our last meeting resulted in a difficult discussion that lasted the better part of two hours. We acknowledged that some of us are having a difficult time with this concept of merger. Maybe when we voted back in June, we really didn’t deal with some of the harsher realities of having to let go of our beloved churches. Some of us are dealing with the reality of moving away from familiar spaces—spaces where our children have been baptized, where we or our children have married, where we have had spiritual awakenings, and where we have wept together in joy and in loss. And upon the sale of this property, there will be no home to go back to. We will be homeless. Others of us are looking at the changes that will inevitably occur as membership more than doubles and accommodations must be made for new and different sisters and brothers. These changes, too, involve harsh realities. The time will come that Grace Presbyterian Church will have its own operations in place so that our business is done decently and in order. In the meantime, we are in this interim time: a time of change and uncertainty. The Merger Steering Committee is being guided by an Administrative Council appointed by Presbytery, because there is very little in the Book of Order that addresses situations exactly like we are in at this time.

With the guidance of the Administrative Council, we are moving forward, but it isn’t an easy time.  We are in the process of learning to live together. Let us all be reminded that, one day, we will all be joined together into the Church Universal, the Church Triumphant. All things will pass away. But, in the meantime, let us be forgiving, as we are forgiven by a generous and loving God. We must stay focused on how much we share, and how together, we can do such great things---greater than either of our churches could accomplish alone. Let us move forward together with faith, and hope, and let us love one another, as Christ has loved us.