Austin MN First Baptist_thumbBy Brett Williams

Slips of paper rustled slightly as deacons walked slowly around the room, collecting votes. The congregation sat in hushed silence. The measure under consideration involved merging two churches:

“First Baptist Church would combine with Grace Baptist Church’s membership and care on December 31, 2013. The combined congregation would continue under Grace Baptist Church’s constitution, by-laws, covenant, and pastoral leadership. First Baptist Church’s assets would be combined with Grace Baptist Church’s, pending approval by both congregations. Effective December 31, 2013, all active members of First Baptist Church will be added to the membership of Grace Baptist Church, unless they previously decline on an individual basis.”

At last, the final count was in. The measure had passed with over 90 percent approval. No one had expected this level of unity, but nearly everyone had hoped for it. And it happened again at the second church.

Two churches merging is not unique, but in this case, the two churches carried individual and combined history. They had at one time been one church!