Moving Forward

Better Together

 

     St. Paul's UCC and Zion UCC are in a "Moving Forward Together" process of looking at the potential of forming a new church together, which would worship at the present location of St. Paul's UCC.  This page is intended to provide updates on our Moving Forward Together process.

 

     We have a combined Moving Forward Together committee.  Serving on the MFT committee are 6 members from each church, including: Kirk Aulenbach (co-chair from St. Paul's UCC), Cory Putt (co-chair from Zion UCC), and the pastors of both churches.

 

     For years, St. Paul's UCC and Zion UCC have been sharing in combined ministries in our community, not just with each other, but also through the Conrad Weiser Ministerium and the Covenant Association and with other churches in our local area.  Those combined ministries have been growing in recent years, and include Thanksgiving Eve and Lenten evening worship services, VBS, MB&S, local mission projects, local and global mission outreach, combined Bible studies, prayer vigils, and more. 

 

     Prior to the pandemic, Zion UCC began the process of listing their building for sale.  During the pandemic, our churches began working even closer together.  We shared in a combined Bible study based on the book The Post-Quarantine Church, and explored the possibilities of how we could best minister to our community in this new world.

 

      In September of 2021, Zion UCC in Womelsdorf sold their church building to another congregation.  The congregation of St. Paul's UCC closed our doors that Sunday morning, that we might be able to join with Zion UCC in worship together on Sunday, September 5, 2021 for Zion UCC's final worship service in their building.  The Sundays following, Zion UCC began worshiping in the Miller Fellowship Hall at St. Paul's UCC in Robesonia.  On Sunday, November 21, 2021, St. Paul's UCC & Zion UCC began worshiping together in the sanctuary of St. Paul's UCC in Robesonia.

 

     The Consistories (i.e. the "Board of Directors") of each congregation began meeting together regularly to discuss and better discern where God might be leading our congregations.  The Conference Minister and Associate Conference Ministers of our Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the UCC recommended the book Better Together, which we studied together.  That book provides recommendations, cautions, and what are healthy and unhealthy processes for bringing two churches together, as we are seeking to have the strongest and healthiest outcome possible.  The book invited us to answer the following four questions before proceeding:

Would our congregation be better by coming together than remaining separate?
Could we accomplish more together than we could separately?
Would our congregation be better served if we joined together?
Could the kingdom of God be further enlarged by joining together?

The leadership of St. Paul's UCC & Zion UCC unanimously and enthusiastically answered all four of those questions with a resounding, "Yes."


     The Consistory of St. Paul's UCC gave updates and invited questions during the December 2021 Annual Congregational Meeting, while the congregation of Zion UCC also gathered for a Special Congregational Meeting for updates and questions.  There was consensus for continual exploration.

 

     By January 2022, a combined "Moving Forward Committee" was formed, composed of six members from each congregation, including the Pastors of both congregations, and co-chaired by a member from each congregation.  We unanimously agreed upon the "Folding-In" process found in the book Better Together, which is also the process recommended for our situation by the Conference and Associate Conference Ministers of the PSEC, to lead us to a strong, healthy, 1+1=3 growing church.

 

     In February 2022, the Consistories made a formal announcement to the two congregations that, "Zion UCC and St. Paul’s UCC have formed a Moving Forward Committee to explore the process and various aspects of creating a new congregation together. Through prayer, study, and consultation, we believe God’s Spirit is leading us to have intentional conversation with one another about the possibility of what we could do together."  The committee also read the announcement during the Sunday, February 20 worship service.

 

     In March 2022, the Consistories called for a special congregational meeting to take place on April 3 to provide updates about the process, invite questions, and invite members from both congregations to join the Naming Sub-Committee, which has the task of, "As Zion UCC and St. Paul’s UCC explore the possibility of creating a new congregation together, we have before us the question of, 'What will that new congregation be called?' ....  Our hope is that the naming process will lead us to greater unity in a sense of consensus to a name to which the Holy Spirit is leading us."

 

     On Sunday, May 22, 2022 both congregations had meetings to vote in a straw poll on moving forward together.  The members of both congregations unanimously responded with a "yes" vote to, "Do you currently believe that God is leading our two congregations to continue to explore the vision of forming one church together?"

 

     A great deal of work continued over the summer of 2022.  In the September 2022 newsletter, the Moving Forward Committee provided an update on the work done over the summer, and the Consistories issued a call for a special Informational Congregational meeting for Sunday, September 11, 2022 after worship.  

 

 

 

Letters & Articles

     Please click on the following links for letters and articles to the congregation. 

 

  Announcement of September 11, 2022 Congregation Informational Meeting

 

  September 2022 Newsletter Article - Updates & Progress

 

  March 2022 - Letter to the Congregations

       with Announcement for the April 3, 2022 Congregation Informational Meeting

 

  February 2022 - Letter to the Congregations

 

 

     In addition to the above links, there are past articles of activities and ministries in which our two congregations have been participating in together on our 2021 Past News and 2022 Past News web pages and in The Herald monthly newsletter. 

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