An update on the Northwest church, by Earl Ash

CANTON, Oh. (BNc) — An article appeared June 10 about the merger of the two largest congregations in Canton, Oh.

We have received numerous requests on how the merger has gone and the current status of the work in Canton.

What began as conversation many years ago, culminated in a meeting of the elders this past spring. After much discussion and prayer, it was decided that the Lord’s work could best be carried out by the uniting of these two fine congregations and so the process began.

The next step was to gather the deacons of both congregations (now 14 men) and sharing the plan with these good men. The positive response was overwhelming! Now it was time to share the news with the brethren.

On a Sunday morning some of the (now) nine elders (five from 38th St. and four from Market Ave.) were at each congregation and the oldest or longest serving elder from each read a letter that had been prepared for this historical event.

Many were thrilled! Some were sad, but understood, some wept, and a very few were angry. Thus began our journey together.

We began immediately to meet together as one congregation on Sunday evenings. As time passed we combined our Wednesday Bible studies as well.

Finally the anticipated day came and we met together for one last time as a single congregation at the Market Avenue building for worship in that facility.

It was a great day, a sad day, and a day of unity!

The following week we met as one at the former 38th street building, now known as the Northwest church of Christ.

Have there been struggles? Yes. Joys? Many. But through it all we have reminded ourselves and each other that we are a family and that families love each other, and can work as God’s people in everything!

Now, there was not a takeover, but a merger. We cooperated to merge ministries and Bible classes, we carried over ministries and modified ministries and got people in similar ministries together to figure out how to best continue ministries. We each subjected ourselves to the elders and to one another, so that we might carry out the work of the Lord.

We then rented a booth at the county fair and worked side by side, sharing the message of Jesus Christ, and together we distributed thousands of pieces of literature in order to spread the gospel and get our name out to the community.

We have held picnics and fellowships to get to know one another better. We have gotten our senior groups together and began activities that would help them know one another.

We worship and pray together, and we are using all the men of the former congregations as well as the elders and preachers.

We also held a gospel meeting using all of our preachers, and we have moved onward!

One of the ministers used the analogy of the marriage of two older people. Both were very set in their ways, but so much in love with each other and wanting to be together, that they learned to overlook and cooperate for the good of the marriage.

That is a fair description of where we are: learning about one another, loving one another, working along side one another for the cause of Jesus Christ!

Has it been hard at times? Certainly! Is it worth the energy, the effort and the tears and prayers? Absolutely!

We are beginning to make a bigger impact in Canton, Oh., collectively than we could have ever made as two separate congregations.

The history of the Northwest church has just begun!

We are grateful for what has happened here and grateful for the history of the two former congregations, but mostly we are grateful to God for bringing us together to better serve him and carry the gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us