Word of Life Church, at 1804 7th Ave., Rock Island, and Heart of Hope Outreach Center, 1740 9th Ave., Rock Island, are merging ministries. A combined worship service will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday followed by a free dessert reception at 11:30 a.m.
Church pastor, the Rev. Tanner Payton, also will welcome the Rev. Lynda Sargent, as part of the pastoral team. Rev. Sargent was Heart of Hope’s founder and president. The center will continue as an outreach center.
Word of Life was founded in 1978.
“This is something we started talking about three to four years ago,” Rev. Tanner said.
The two church centers are only a few blocks apart. But leading a church and an outreach center has been difficult to do, Rev. Lynda said.
The merger will allow the churches to share resources while keeping both buildings open. It also will address a “social reconciliation” of combining a young, white preacher with an experienced, veteran pastor “who knows and loves everybody,” Rev. Payton said,
At one time, Word of Life was Rev. Sargent’s church home. She said she remembers teaching Sunday school classes in its community parlor room, including her daughters when they were 8 and 5 years old.
Heart of Hope has been a smaller congregation, while Word of Life averages 150 to 160 people per Sunday, including a culturally diverse group of people. The addition of a designated outreach center will allow church members “to hit the ground running,” Rev, Tanner said.
Rev. Sargent credited the merger “purely to God’s will.”
“The merging of a congregation and the calling of a new pastor is a wonderful time to share our story with the local community,” Rev. Tanner said. “This is exciting news and will help bring more diversity to our congregation at a time of much division in the world.
“Word of Life is growing in both attendance and diversity,” he said. “The merger will help us in our effort to show the love of Jesus to everyone in our community.”