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It's a merger!!!!!!!

It. is. on.

On May 7, the congregations of Congregational UCC of Amherst and First Congregational UCC of Lorain voted overwhelmingly to merge into one congregation. Amherst's vote was 100% in favor and Lorain's was 85.5% positive, both greatly surpassing the two-thirds threshold each congregation required for passage.

What this means from a legal standpoint is that the Lorain church's last day of existence is June 30; and on July 1 the two congregations will officially become one. The first official worship service of the merged congregation will be Sunday, July 2 ... which is 177 years to the day that the Congregational Society of North Amherst, Ohio was formed.

What this means from a practical standpoint is that we have a lot to do between now and June 30 to prepare for merging into one ... like choosing a new name!  Some preparations have already taken place - the endowment and hospitality teams have met jointly, and the core transition teams have been in constant conversation. There will be additional teams created to move as nimbly as possible and as thoughtfully as possible to blend the different aspects of our congregational lives. We don't see this as a challenge (other than in the time frame); we see this as an opportunity to strengthen our place as a part of the Body of Christ at work in northern Lorain County.

In the months ahead, keep the current members of the Lorain church in your prayers. Some will choose not to follow the congregation to Amherst and separate themselves from seeing long-term church friends on a weekly basis. Some will mourn loss of a building that has been the church home for generations of family members. Some will grieve some of the symbols and items in the building that will be left behind.  Some will have some other attachment, memory or emotion that will give them pause at the church's closing. To be sure, we will be grieving some things that will change in our midst - but always remember the greater emotional cost to the Lorain folk.

Beyond simply holding them in prayer, reach out in a welcoming way to greet those who are now a part of us. We will be working on a common pictorial directory to help everyone connect names and faces. We will create name tags for all who need them - and please wear them. Frankly, there are people in the current congregation who don't know each other - and name tags on Sunday would be helpful!

Both congregations are in for some change. Some changes will be more major than others. Some individuals will handle change easily while others will experience difficulty. Patience, love, kindness and understanding is always the Christian way of being. Have a few extra portions of each in reserve as we navigate the near future together!

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