Lifestyle

Flocks of a feather come together

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

Two Federal Way congregations have become one in a merger that created LifeWay Church.

The approximately 600 combined members of Calvary Community Church and the Church at Palisades voted to consolidate as a way to strengthen the organizations’ service to the community.

Led by pastors Billy Arnold (Palisades) and Don Turner (Calvary), the joint membership celebrated with an open-house service May 18 at Decatur High School. The school’s Performing Arts Center will be LifeWay’s temporary worship hall until the church builds a new facility.

Turning two churches into one is unusual, according to Arnold. Some churches close for lack of members or money, but rarely do they morph into one.

“This has been a remarkable experience that would never have happened if God wasn’t in it,” he said. “No one involved in this consolidation –– or anyone else I’ve talked to, for that matter –– has ever heard of doing something like this.”

The merger started with Turner. He noticed that Palisades, which was part of a Baptist organization but not strictly Baptist, had philosophies similar to his own Calvary, an independent church.

Turner talked to Arnold about joining forces. They talked to their respective elder boards, and the proposal went in March to a separate vote of each congregation. Calvary’s approval was almost unanimous, and Palisades was about 90 percent in favor, a church spokeswoman said. Some members opposed to merging have left the church.

“We approached the possibility of joining congregations with the idea that we could do more together to serve the Federal Way community in the name of Christ than we could separately,” Turner said. “If at any point in the process we had realized that we couldn’t, we wouldn’t have done it.”

The newly minted, interdenominational congregation has been meeting together since March 16. Services are Sunday mornings at 9:15 and 11 a.m. Nursery service, Sunday school, a youth group, adult spiritual growth classes, singles groups, seniors groups and community service opportunities are also offered.

To offset any feelings that the larger, combined congregation could be less personal, church officials are working on a plan for community-style groupings within the overall membership.

The old Palisades and Calvary facilities, which each were home to about 300 members, aren’t big enough for the merged congregation, so a new campus is tentatively scheduled to open within the next two years at a site on Southwest 356th Street. The project is still in permit stages with the city of Federal Way.

The former Calvary building is serving as the base for LifeWay staff members.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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