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Joining congregations as one

When two become one: Calvary and St. Thomas churches merging

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SIOUX CITY -- In 1890, a group of sisters from St. Thomas Episcopal Church left to start a new congregation in the Morningside area. Now, that congregation is returning home. 

Calvary Episcopal Church and St. Thomas Episcopal Church will join as one on Sunday. After 131 years of operation, Reverend Stacy Gerhart said it is time to join together. 

Gerhart was raised, baptized and married in St. Thomas. She left Sioux City for a while but after returning in 2003, her family decided to attend Calvary for a smaller church. She was ordained 10 years ago. 

While the church is really the the parishioners, Gerhart said it's hard to separate it from a place where people celebrate milestones such as baptisms, confirmations, marriages and funerals.

Gerhart said there are some people who have attended Calvary their entire lives. Despite the sadness, Gerhart said she feels there is a renewed energy and excitement from parishioners to worship together.

The merger has been discussed since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom meetings were held with the parishioners to discuss the merger and why now was the best time to do it. 

It is currently unknown what will happen to Calvary's building. Gerhart said ideally it will stay a church or base of ministry, but there is no hurry. 

On Sunday, Calvary will hold their final service. The service will start at Calvary and then will finish at St. Thomas.

Gerhart said having a split service represents coming together and moving from one building to another, physically represents the move.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Iowa, Rt. Reverend Alan Scarfe will preside at the special celebration merger of the two churches. During the service, Gerhart will be installed as the rector of St. Thomas. 

The two churches have been understanding of the transition, Gerhart said, and by working together the churches can accomplish far more. 

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