Church Merger Goes Beyond Saving Money

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The economy is hurting churches across the country, but two Kentucky churches have found a solution.

Pastors Lincoln Bingham and Mark Payton are still lifting up thanks in prayer after making the decision to merge their two churches.

It was an answer to prayer in tough economic times for the all-black St. Paul Baptist Church congregation-- which needed more space-- and the all-white Shively Heights Baptist Church congregation-- which needed younger members.

Both pastors admitted the seven miles between the two church buildings wasn't the greatest distance they'd have to overcome. 

"All during the years of my ministry we have had some people who are uncomfortable with white people coming to our church," Bingham said. 

"But I think what we are saying in this merge is, we are going to overcome that," Payton added.  "There is going to be some stretching both of us, but we are going to overcome it."

The first service for the new Saint Paul Baptist Church at Shively Heights is in the record books and in an Internet video.

A few members from both flocks opted to leave, but more than 600 are staying for the new blended style of worship.    

"I think it will be complimentary blending to see them move our way a little bit, and I will move their way a little bit," Bingham said.

The pastors, and long-time friends, began work on the merger nine months ago.  Both can already see how the union will expand their ability to serve people in need.

*Originally published August 25, 2009 

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