(And they’re alright.)
«For 18 months, Bluff City Church and First United Methodist Church have been “courting,” said Bishop Bill McAlilly of the Nashville Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church.
“Today we come to be married, thanks be to God,” McAlilly said.
The merger of the two churches was also a commitment by both congregations to remain United Methodist, a commitment coming at a time when some churches are leaving the denomination over differences regarding church practice and doctrine, often related to same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy.
“In the overall perspective of the United Methodist World, this is a really important message, because it says that people can come together and honor our differences and distinctiveness but also be one in Christ together,” said the Rev. Tom Fuerst, who will pastor the combined church.
Fuerst founded Bluff City Church about five years ago at the direction of McAlilly, after Fuerst was fired from Christ Church Memphis. Christ Church has since voted to disaffiliate from the denomination.
For years, Bluff City Church didn’t have a permanent home, meeting in other churches and temporary spaces.
At the same time, First United Methodist Church was wondering what its future would look like. Founded in 1826, the church has, like many historical congregations, struggled to recruit newer membership as its members age.»