Three Lutheran churches merge their con­gre­ga­tions

Waterloo Region Record - - Local - CATHER­INE THOMP­SON cthomp­son@there­cord.com Twit­ter: @Thomp­sonRecord

WATER­LOO RE­GION — Three Lutheran con­gre­ga­tions in Kitch­ener and Water­loo have com­bined into a new church in the face of dwin­dling mem­ber­ship.

Re­for­ma­tion Lutheran Church in Kitch­ener held its last ser­vice at 456 Krug St. in June. St. Mark’s held its clos­ing ser­vice at the end of Septem­ber at 825 King St. W. be­tween Kitch­ener-Water­loo Col­le­giate In­sti­tute and Grand River Hos­pi­tal. Both those con­gre­ga­tions have merged with St John’s Lutheran in its church at 22 Wil­low St. in Water­loo to form Tril­lium Lutheran Church.

The new con­gre­ga­tion be­gan to wor­ship on Oct. 7 in the Wil­low Street build­ing, and will hold a cel­e­bra­tory wor­ship ser­vice on Nov. 4 to mark the new be­gin­ning.

The move was prompted by “dwin­dling num­bers and a re-eval­u­a­tion of the use of as­sets and how they can be bet­ter put to us,” said Michael Pryse, bishop of the Eastern Synod of the Evan­gel­i­cal Lutheran Church in Canada.

On a typ­i­cal Sun­day, Re­for­ma­tion saw about 35 peo­ple at its wor­ship ser­vice, while St. Mark’s and St. Luke’s av­er­aged about 90 wor­ship­pers.

It’s a trend most main­stream churches are strug­gling with, said Pryse, who is re­spon­si­ble for 120 Lutheran con­gre­ga­tions stretch­ing from Hal­i­fax to Sault Ste. Marie. “Ev­ery­one’s pretty much got the same graph on their wall,” he said.

Two other Kitch­ener Lutheran churches — St. Phillip and St. Luke — merged ear­lier this year.

The for­mer St. Philip site was sold and will open as a new In­dige­nous drop-in cen­tre this fall. The church re­duced its ask­ing price to help the drop-in cen­tre and the synod helped with the new cen­tre’s mort­gage, Pryse said.

“That’s a good news story,” he said, adding that the church was able to sup­port “an agency that’s go­ing to do some won­der­ful work that aligns with our val­ues.”

It can be wrench­ing to see a loved church shut­tered, he said. His home church was St. Philip, where he was bap­tized in 1962, so he knows how dif­fi­cult that can be. But with so many un­der­used churches, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­think what the church does with its re­sources, he said.

“Part of my job is to shine a spot­light on the op­por­tu­ni­ties and bless­ings that can be be­stowed by think­ing of our sa­cred spa­ces in creative ways,” he said.

St. Mark’s hasn’t yet been sold. The for­mer Re­for­ma­tion church on Krug has been sold to an­other con­gre­ga­tion.

MIRKO PETRICEVIC THE RECORD

Re­for­ma­tion Lutheran Church held its last ser­vice in June. The con­gre­ga­tion has joined Tril­lium Lutheran Church at 22 Wil­low St. in Water­loo.

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