Merger Team "Position Paper"
The Congregations of Raum Chapel UMC, Rock Hall Church UMC, and Wesley Chapel UMC have a long history of serving the residents of Kent County by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While we faithfully share and support one another's ministries, we believe that the merging of our resources will make us stronger in our united mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world...”
Though we will be a newly merged congregation, we will seek to sustain and expand our presence in the mission field of southern Kent County.
Where will we meet? What about our buildings?
Currently we have three church buildings that perfectly fit our current ministries.
As a merger team, we believe a new unified ministry will have clear and unique needs for physical space that will most likely be different from what we currently have, but we have yet to begin the work of discerning this.
Our team has been focused on discerning the vision and values that we share, trusting that to be the driving force to draw us together, then to address our needs for physical space from a unified perspective.
Is this something the Conference wants us to do?
The Peninsula Delaware Conference has not directed our merger conversations. This has been something that leaders have been discussing in our churches for at least 40 years. Our District Superintendent Rev. Elmer Davis did attend one of our meetings this past summer and has planned to join us for a Charge-wide Town Hall meeting in the near future.
Per our Book of Discipline, it is necessary that The Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conference approve our decision to merge after they consider our purpose and plans for merging our ministries. The Conference would also have to approve any major changes to our church properties including any extensive remodeling, sale, or purchase so that our work remains in keeping with the vision and mission of the United Methodist Church.
Who is making these decisions? Who decides whether or not to merge?
The merger team is a group of committed members of each of our churches who meet regularly to work through questions and issues related to merging our ministries. The team is composed of people from each church as approved by the Administrative Board.
As for who makes the final decision, when and if we get to the point of presenting a merger proposal to the church, every professing member, as opposed to baptized members, of the local church will have a vote. Professing members are those who joined the church through confirmation or took the vows of membership as an adult. We are in the process of auditing our membership records to ensure that every person entitled to a vote is recognized.
How can I find out more about the Merger Team’s work?
The team meetings are publicly announced on our charge calendar and are open to anyone to attend. When guests do attend, we will have time for questions at the beginning and end of the meeting to foster clarity on the work being done.
A summary of each meeting will be on the blog page of our website. You can view those by following THIS LINK. https://www.yourrockhall.church/blog/categories/ministry-merger
How does this merger fit with our mission?
As United Methodists... for that matter as a church... our mission is to make disciples. As a United Methodist Church, our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world...
Our charge met for 2 days in 2019 to discern a unified vision for our charge. At the end of those days, we discerned that what God desires for us is that:
By 2025, every member of our church, having experienced the real presence and power of God, will move out of our churches and into our community in loving service in order to see God glorified in the homes and lives of our neighbors who without faith will too easily trip or fall into hopelessness. Download the entire statement here.
This means that by 2025, we saw a church where:
Every member has experienced the real presence and power of God through our worship; and
Every member responds to that experience by being invested in a ministry in our community; so that
Every member, every family, and every home in our community is impacted by our ministry
What if people leave because of the merger?
The reason for sharing our progress and the reasoning behind any merger is that everyone would be “on the same page”. We do understand though that some folks will choose not to remain a part of a unified ministry. This happens in our churches all the time though. People come for several weeks or even years then move on for one reason or another. Our desire is to communicate a vision and mission that inspires everyone to come together for the glory of God. Each person will have to decide if they are so inspired.
What if our church doesn't want to merge?
Our team has realized this might be a risk, but it’s also why we can discuss openly about our concerns. We believe that any and all fears and hesitations should be discussed, understanding that we may not be able to resolve them completely.
If our church chooses not to merge with the others, then we continue as a congregation understanding that there may be significant changes in the other congregations; what those changes are is yet to be determined.
What about the separation of the UMC? Shouldn’t we wait until the denomination settles its issues before we do anything?
The Merger Team was formed to do the work of discernment, research, and planning required to present a Merger Proposal to each church in the Rock Hall Charge. Our work does not include this issue. However, it has become clear that many in our churches want to get clarity on where our churches stand on the Separation Protocol. While it is not in the scope of our work, we do believe that it would be wise for each church to gain clarity on this question, so that our work can build upon our mutually held values and vision.