Wednesday, July 2
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The Presbytery of Blackhawk
First Presbyterian Church of Rockford celebrated 158 years of ministry in July 2012 amid knowledge that change was coming. In November 2011 the session recommended that the church’s 105-year-old building be sold. The decision wasn’t easy, but the congregation had dwindled and maintenance costs had escalated. Without dissent, the congregation agreed to sell. They made the decision not knowing their future; they knew only that they would first attempt to sell the building and then decide to close, move, or merge.
Early in 2012 the session and a newly formed transition team began to work on the “what next” plan. They quickly decided that First Presbyterian should merge, continuing its vital downtown ministry. Scouts from First Presbyterian visited and worshiped with nearby congregations interested in merging. In June 2012 the congregation decided to federate with Second Congregational Church, just half a block away. The next six months involved selling the church, determining how to federate with another denomination, and cleaning out the old building.
On December 30, 2012, the First Presbyterian congregation worshiped in the church’s sanctuary for the final time. A bagpiper’s piping led members to the street corner, where they met the people of Second Congregational. Tears flowed as they embraced, and Second Congregational/First Presbyterian Church was born at the intersection of Park and Church Streets in downtown Rockford.
—Rev. Beth Wagner, transitional copastor, Second Congregational/First Presbyterian Church of Rockford
Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. John E. Rickard, general presbyter and stated clerk
Lou Ann Breckenridge, treasurer
Jan Hartman, Stronghold director of operations and program development
Ryan Anderson, Stronghold program director
Richard Simpson, director of youth ministry and church outreach
Gust James, Stronghold maintenance coordinator
Darlene Kenney, Stronghold kitchen coordinator
Diane Brainard, Stronghold reservations coordinator/staff assistant
Loreen Stravers, staff assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Gracious God, we celebrate that you are in charge of our future. We are honored to be part of your amazing story of birth and new life. Allow us to be open to you and your guiding Spirit. Amen.