Faith Presbyterian to hold first service May 24th

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Pelzer and Williamston Presbyterian

Pelzer and Williamston Presbyterians will observe Pentecost Sunday, May 24, as one church – now Faith Presbyterian. The worship service at 11 a.m. will be at the sanctuary in Williamston on Mill Street. Most weekly services will be held in the sanctuary in Williamston, with fifth Sundays and special services to be held at the sanctuary in Pelzer. Members of both churches will become members of Faith Presbyterian Church.

Rev. Aaron Ochart, pastor, said “It is the hope of the joint Sessions that continued growth of Faith Presbyterian Church will not only allow for the justification of maintaining both church buildings but necessitate the two buildings to support the growth and outreach of our congregation. It is the intent of the Session to preserve as many of the elements of both current church buildings as possible and incorporate them into our worship lives both now and in the future.”

The official union of the two churches, in the planning stages for the last several years, was approved unanimously on April 28, 2015 by the Foothills Presbytery of which the churches are a part.

The churches were yoked and shared a pastor, Rev. John Hallman. Over the years, the two churches were brought closer together through joint Wednesday evening Bible studies, a shared Food Bank ministry, and joint services throughout the year.

In 2008, a plan was proposed by the Sessions to combine all services for the two churches on a rotating schedule. That plan received a wide majority from each church, but did not pass the eighty-five percent threshold set by the Sessions of both churches.

In 2012 the Sessions worked together to create a plan for combined services starting in 2013. The congregations were informed of the plan through meetings, letters and conversations on the reasons for combining services, the financial outlook of each church, and the eventual goal of merging the two churches. In December of 2012, both congregations approved the plan for combined services and have been meeting together since then.

The formal move towards merging the two churches began in the summer of 2013 when both Sessions started seriously setting forth plans to do so. Presbytery officials were notified. In the spring of 2014, the Sessions elected a Unification Committee, two members from each church. They wrote a Unification Proposal which was approved by both Sessions and presented to members for information and discussion.

On June 8, each congregation voted on the plan which was approved by both churches above the sixty percent margin set. The congregation was then asked to submit names for the new merged church. More than thirty names were submitted. Faith Presbyterian Church received a majority vote.

Following a Sessions Retreat, members expressed that we want to think of ourselves as truly one church. They set a mission statement: “To be a community of faith called by Jesus Christ to spread the Gospel and serve all people.”

As a result of the retreat, Stewardship teams have been formed to involve more members and their ideas, to enhance current programs and missions, and to provide for further community outreach.