Same Values, Goals Motivate Two Churches to Merge

Post a Comment » Written on June 2nd, 2009     
Filed under: News
PADUCAH, KY (June 2, 2009) – Over the course of their four-year friendship, pastors Brad Henson and Mike Rothwell realized that their congregations held the same values and goals. They began to believe their two churches should merge.

On Sunday, the new Four Rivers Covenant Church held its first worship service. Six hundred people attended, says Larry Sherman, associate superintendent of the Great Lakes Conference.

Each of the congregations had voted separately on May 24 to merge.

The pastors say the diversity of the new congregation will make it stronger.

The merger may cause some confusion among people not familiar with the two congregations. Four Rivers Church, which was started in 2000, already was a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church. New Covenant Church – despite its name – was a nondenominational congregation. The merged congregation continues to be part of the denomination.

The church worships in the building owned by New Covenant – Four Rivers previously met in a theater.

Prior to the merger, each pastor served his respective congregation. Under the new arrangement, Henson will serve as senior pastor while Rothwell will serve as associate pastor with an emphasis on worship and music.

The discussions between Henson and Rothwell expanded to include lay leadership in both churches. The congregations began participating in joint community projects and sharing Sunday morning worship services together in recent weeks.

“I have always desired to see Christians come together,” Rothwell told the local newspaper. “Unfortunately, what we find when there is a movement in congregations – it is people going separate ways.”

The congregations were excited about the merger. Henson explained that they do ballots differently in their congregation, providing members with four choices: enthusiastic yes, yes, no, and enthusiastic no.

More than 70 percent of the votes were enthusiastic affirmative votes, Henson says.

The merger already has resulted in a few minor headaches, thanks to one television news report that quoted Henson as saying the merger was good for his congregation because Four Rivers “never had a lot of mature believers…”

Henson says he was trying to explain that his church was made up primarily of younger people – many of them also young in their faith – and that interacting with people who have been Christians for a long time would be a benefit.

The pastors say the diversity of the new congregation will make it stronger.

Four Rivers also operates a satellite campus in Calvert City, which is led by Pastor Caleb Skinner.

Four Rivers grew over time because of its commitment to servant evangelism, Henson said in a 2007 video interview. To watch Henson discuss the history of his congregation, click here.

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