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Two Decatur churches prepare to become one

WAAY 31 spoke with church members about the merger.

Posted: May 20, 2019 7:35 PM
Updated: May 20, 2019 7:47 PM

The pews in a historical church in Decatur will no longer seat its usual worshippers.

Grant Street Church of Christ has decided to join forces with Austinville Church of Christ, due to declining memberships at both churches.

Because of the expensive up-keep at the Grant Street location, church members from both churches will now congregate together at Austinville’s location.

“It’s been a very, very difficult decision to leave here," said Grant Street Church of Christ member, Alan Watkins.

Watkins has a lot of personal history in the building that houses Grant Street Church of Christ, where he’s been a member for 17 years.

But the church holds far more history than his own. It was founded in 1910, and worship services have been held in the same building since 1925.

“We have one lady in her 90’s. She has never been a member anywhere other than in this building," Watkins said.

But, with the building being so old, and membership declining, its up-keep has become too much for the church’s members to handle.

That’s why they’re consolidating with nearby Austinville Church of Christ and they will use their building instead.

“By getting together, it frees up a lot of financial and talent resources, and puts them under the same roof," Watkins said. "And the plan is that we can be more effective in reaching our community for Christ.”

WAAY 31 spoke with one woman who used to attend Austinville Church of Christ, but is now a member at Grant Street. She told us, while she’s sad to say "goodbye" to her current church, the merger will be a sort of homecoming for her.

“There’s always a time when you’ve got to put that ‘For Sale’ sign out in the yard for your own house and make sure that you’re meeting the needs of your family, and that is what our elders have done," Heather Gillikin said.

“It is a family. It really is. That’s part of why it’s hard to want to go somewhere else," Watkins added. "I realize, as beautiful as this building is, it’s just bricks and mortar and wood. The people are what make the church.”

The two churches are hoping to unite some time in July, but an official date has not yet been decided.

Both churches' members recently agreed to name the consolidated place of worship "Decatur Church of Christ."

No plans have been made for the Grant Street building at this time.

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