Help needed for the big move
As part of the Aldersgate UMC merger with Gary Church, a relocation of items such as boxes, tables and chairs from Aldersgate to Gary is planned for Saturday, June 10. Volunteers are needed to help move these items into the rented truck at Aldersgate and out of the truck into the Lower Level at Gary — no stairs. Work starts at 9 a.m. at Aldersgate, 1753 S. Blanchard Street, Wheaton. No registration required; we look forward to seeing you on that day.
Positive vote for merger
Gary Church and Aldersgate UMC have voted to merge to form one congregation. We will continue to work through the details of the merger during a transition period. The intent of the merger is described in the Plan and Agreement for Merger linked here and available in print in the Church Office.
Key elements of the merger are:
- The merger will enable our congregations and ministries to grow stronger and serve others in ways that we cannot as separate congregations. The pastors will lead development of a merged congregation vision and mission statements.
- Our congregations will merge as Gary Memorial United Methodist Church at the current Gary Church facility. The Aldersgate facility will be sold.
- Detailed planning will occur through May, when a celebration of our joining together is anticipated on Pentecost, May 28. The legal and business merger would be effective July 1, 2023.
ALDERSGATE UMC – GARY UMC MERGER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (updated January 30, 2023)
Why are the two churches considering merging?
With the encouragement of the Prairie Central District Superintendent, leaders from the two congregations have been meeting together to discuss ways to partner together since May 2022. After conversation, study, and prayer, they recommended that the congregations and ministries merge to grow stronger and serve others in ways that each congregation cannot do separately.
What is the timeline if the merger vote is positive?
With positive votes (2/3 of members present) of each congregation on February 5, 2023, a transition period would begin to work through the details of the merger, including business and legal considerations. June 1, 2023 is anticipated to be the date for business merger, with a celebration in worship on Pentecost on May 28, 2023.
Where would the merged church worship?
The plan is for Aldersgate to sell their facility on Blanchard Road and the merged congregation to worship at the Gary facility on North Main St.
How big are each of the congregations?
Gary has ~ 700 members and Aldersgate has ~30 members.
What would be the name of the merged congregation?
The merged congregation would keep the name Gary Memorial UMC, and the Aldersgate members who want to be part of the merged congregation would transfer their membership to Gary.
What happens to the staff of each congregation?
The pastor and musician from Aldersgate would join the Gary staff to serve the new merged congregation.
What happens to the assets of the two churches upon merger?
Neither church has any debt. The contracts and accounts of Aldersgate would be terminated and assets moved to Gary accounts. The proceeds from the sale of the Aldersgate property would be put into an identified account at Gary that would be used (per the Book of Discipline) for future capital expenses.
How are the two congregations getting to know one another?
Some members from Aldersgate and Gary have known each other for a long time and served together in several common ministries, but intentional gatherings have already occurred, and future activities would happen during the transition period. This includes Pastor Cochran leading the Wednesday night Lenten Study at Gary with accompanying soup suppers; Gary participation in the Aldersgate tutoring and arts programs; identifying where Aldersgate members would connect in Gary committees.
Is the other congregation that uses the Aldersgate facility coming to Gary, too?
A 50–70-member congregation of another denomination that has been using the Aldersgate facility on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons has expressed interest and toured the Gary facility to assess the possibility of entering into a space use agreement. No agreement has been created yet.
What is happening with the Gary UMC affiliation with Winfield UMC?
Winfield UMC is merging with First UMC of West Chicago effective July 1, 2023.
A Brief History of Aldersgate United Methodist Church
In 1958, members of Gary Methodist Church in Wheaton answered the call of their bishop to start a new congregation south of downtown. These members began meeting in homes, then a local Masonic Lodge, before finally constructing a new church building on about 10 acres of farmland along South Blanchard Road.
When completed in 1961, the church retained the old farmhouse as the parsonage and the existing barn for storing old pews that were later installed in the chapel. In 1968, the congregation added an extension with a pastor’s study, church office and classrooms.
By the late 1980s a growing congregation voted to incorporate into the City of Wheaton and began remodeling the lower level to provide an art room and three additional classrooms. In 1991, the congregation built a new handicap accessible wing which included a commercial kitchen and a new fellowship hall with several multipurpose rooms that later facilitated a Parents’ Day Out program, weekly tutoring and dining programs.
Over the years, Aldersgate also hosted multiple worship communities and a Boy Scout troop. This legacy of community engagement and service will continue as the faithful members bring their gifts, resources and presence to Gary Memorial UMC.