The final worship service at the Luling United Methodist Church in Luling will be held on Sunday, Nov. 3. After that, the church will move into a unique partnership with a different denomination.
The church has been in that location for nearly 60 years, but church leaders have decided to combine their services with the First Union Presbyterian Church on Lakewood Drive in Luling.
Rev. Wayne Taylor has been the pastor of Luling United Methodist Church for the past five years. He said combining the two congregations has been in the works for about seven months.
“We are not necessarily merging, but we are going to join and share resources and facilities. We are going to stay Methodist and they are going to stay Presbyterian, but there is going to be one worship service,” he said.
The way the cooperative effort will work is that Taylor will serve as pastor of the combined service while the place of worship will be provided by First Union, which has been struggling in recent years and whose interim pastor’s contract recently expired.
In the combined church, around 135 members will come from Luling United while 50 members are currently on the rolls at First Union. Taylor said he hopes the move will serve to strengthen both churches.
“When I first moved (to Luling United) we were declining and since I have been there we have grown. This will give us an opportunity to continue to grow and strengthen the ministries,” he said.
Taylor said while the faiths have different roots, Presbyterians rely on the teachings of John Calvin while Methodists are more steeped in the philosophy of John Wesley, the churches have more in common than not.
“There are differences, but we have a lot more common ground than we have different ground,” he said.
As far as combining the two congregations, Taylor said there are other examples of Methodists and Presbyterians sharing one worship service.
“There are numerous Methodist/Presbyterian churches,” he said. “It is a growing trend that churches are finding common ground. It’s not unheard of.”
Earlier this year, First Union opted to leave the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. governing body due to rule changes in that organization that no longer require church leaders to commit to fidelity in marriage, described as between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.
Taylor said the issue of clergy members’ sex lives is not something they are looking at right now.
“We’re not even looking at that issue. That is not an issue that is completely resolved in the Methodist church,” he said. “It’s not an issue in our denomination at the moment and we are not going to try and anticipate what the future might hold.”
Luling United Methodist Church plans on putting their current building up for sale following the worship service on Nov. 3, but they have already been in talks with St. Charles Parish Hospital about a potential purchase of the property.
“There is a conversation that is on again and off again,” Taylor said. “If St. Charles Parish Hospital is going to expand we are really the only property because there are streets on each side of their location.”
While Taylor is excited about the combined services, he said some of his parishioners have reservations.
“We have some who love it and can’t wait and others who would like to stay where they are and continue what we are doing,” he said.
In addition to the change in locations, the worship service itself may see a revamp and go from a combined traditional/contemporary service to a strictly contemporary service. Taylor said that change may be necessary to meet the spiritual needs of a younger generation.
The first combined service between Luling Methodist and First Union will take place on Nov. 10 at the First Union Presbyterian Church located at 134 Lakewood Drive in Luling. For more information, Taylor can be reached by phone at (985) 785-6868 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.