And the Two Shall Become One: Joyful New Beginnings in Sheppards and Lapsley

General Presbyter, Sue Westfall

One of the sources of joy in the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley is the recent merger of Southminster Presbyterian Church and Shades Valley Presbyterian Church. Southminster had been seeded by Shades Valley years earlier. As the Shades Valley congregation dwindled, aged and faced mounting building repair needs, they decided to be intentional about the stewardship of their resources. With the help of the Presbyterian Foundation they entered into a discernment process that ultimately led them to think first about closing. Yet they believed they were called to be in ministry together and considered options other than simply closing. One of the vexing issues at hand if they closed was that their building site housed a columbarium so what to do about that? As Providence would have it, Southminster had just decided to create a columbarium. What began as a conversation about whether or not the new columbarium at Southminster could accommodate the cremains from Shades Valley’s columbarium ended up as a conversation about merging not just the dead saints but the living saints as well! Through months of discernment the two sessions presented a merger plan to the two congregations which was overwhelmingly embraced. And this newly merged church is off and running!! Praise be to God!

Here in Sheppards and Lapsley we are also grateful for the vitality of our many small congregations, new pastors joining us, our partnership with Faith In Action Alabama which is helping us carry out part of our Matthew 25 commitment to dismantling structural racism, and the great camaraderie we enjoy as a presbytery.

We’re also grateful to be part of the Synod of Living Waters!

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