TOGETHER WITH ONE VOICE
TWO CHURCHES BECOMING ONE
TOGETHER WITH ONE VOICE
TWO CHURCHES BECOMING ONE
THE "ONE VOICE" PROJECT
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)
In late 2021, CornerstonePiqua and Piqua Baptist Church began to explore the possibility of uniting our two churches into one new church. By coming together, we believe, we will strengthen our collective witness to Christ and His gospel in Piqua.
Two churches coming together to partner in the service of the gospel is as old as the New Testament itself. The Apostle Paul often sends greetings from one church to another in his letters. In a time when communication was slow and arduous, New Testament churches knew about one another, were encouraged by news about one another, and were eager to support one another in ministry.
As of January 2023, the Lord has been pleased to bring our two churches together into one new church! Today, we hold out to the city of Piqua a glimpse of heaven, where people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, politics, ages and preferences are united in Christ. This takes time and patience and prayer. Please join us in praying to this end.
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We have outlined a three stage process: exploration, negotiation, and implementation.
PHASE I: EXPLORATION (Completed!)
PHASE II: NEGOTIATION
PHASE III: IMPLEMENTATION
Q: How did this idea come about?
A: As CornerstonePiqua has continued to grow, their need for a larger worship space has become clear. The elders of Cornerstone learned that Piqua Baptist was looking for a pastor and decided to ask about supplying the pulpit in exchange for a place to gather on Sunday evenings. The pastoral search committee of Piqua Baptist suggested we explore meeting at the same time. As we have discussed our two churches, we have found strong theological continuity and have decided to pursue uniting our two churches into one.
Q: Who is Piqua Baptist Church?
A: Piqua Baptist is an independent, non-denominational baptist church with a rich history in Piqua. The church was originally founded in 1811 as Salem Baptist Church. In 1848, the church built a brick structure on West High Street (currently the Masonic Temple). In 1911, two Baptist churches in town came together to form Piqua Baptist church. Between 1912 and 1916 they built a second facility on Broadway Street. They eventually outgrew that building and built their current building at 1402 West High Street in 1976. Piqua Baptist has hosted AWANA, Upwards Basketball program, a large Vacation Bible School, and the Piqua High School Baccalaureate.
Q: Who is CornerstonePiqua?
A: CornerstonePiqua is a non-denominational church which started in 2015 as a church plant out of Cornerstone church in Sidney Ohio. It is a church built on gospel-centered preaching, Christ-exalting worship, Christ-forming discipleship, and Christlike service. As the Lord has grown the church, they’ve outgrown their current facility on King Arthur Drive in Piqua.
Q: Why do we want to unite our churches?
A: We believe uniting our churches will serve the advance of the gospel in Piqua. Our goal is to see the name of Christ exalted in Piqua, Miami County, and the world. By bringing two churches together, we could maximize the use of our resources for the kingdom, address CornerstonePiqua’s need for a larger meeting space, and carry on the ongoing gospel mission of Piqua Baptist Church.
Q: Is this a merger, a takeover, or a revitalization?
A: One church is not taking over for the other, nor is one church reviving the other. One of the most important things to understand about this whole process is that by bringing our churches together, we are effectively creating one new church out of the two. It is a bit like building a new house using materials from two existing houses. The new house will resemble both houses in many ways, but it will be new.
Q: Is Piqua Baptist a part of a baptist denomination?
A: Piqua Baptist is a non-denominational baptist church. They are baptists in that they believe in the autonomy of the local church, in a congregational form of church government, and that only confessing believers in Jesus Christ ought to be baptized.
Q: Is CornerstonePiqua baptist?
A: CornerstonePiqua is “baptistic”. Theologically, they believe—as baptists historically have—in the autonomy of the local church, in a congregational form of church government, and that only confessing believers in Jesus Christ ought to be baptized.
Q: If we unite, what will be the name of the new church?
A: That is part of the Phase II: Negotiations. Since Piqua Baptist has a long history and recognized name in the community, the name of the new church is likely to be Piqua Baptist Church.
Q: What sort of things are being negotiated?
A: The elders meet twice monthly to pursue uniting our churches. They will endeavor to find unity in what we believe (our theology), how we organize (our ecclesiology), how we proclaim the gospel (our missiology), and how we do ministry (our methodology). Both church’s Statements of Faith and constitutions will be considered and compared. A new Statement of Faith and Constitution will be drafted from the two. These documents will be presented to the membership of both churches for final approval.
Q: Who will be the pastor of the new church?
A: CornerstonePiqua has four elders and Piqua Baptist has three. In the New Testament, an elder is a pastor and a pastor is an elder. The elders of Cornerstone and Piqua Baptist will be the pastors of the new church. Pastor Jamie will be the primary preaching pastor.
Q: What will happen to our Servant Teams and Committees and Boards?
A: The new church will require all of us to serve in some capacity. During the negotiation phase, the elders will evaluate which teams are needed and merge them together. Any changes will be made slowly and carefully and will be communicated to the membership well in advance.
Q: Will our finances remain separate?
A: Yes. Our finances will remain separate during the Exploration and Negotiation phases. Members offerings will go to their respective churches. Any funds given by guests will go to Piqua Baptist. As we become one church our finances will be joined.
Q: Does either church have significant debt?
A: By God’s grace and through the generous giving of both churches, neither church has significant debt.
Q: Who will pay for utilities?
A: During the Exploration and Negotiation phase, Piqua Baptist has offered to continue paying for the utilities of the building. Additional expenses incurred during the negotiation phase will be shared. As we become one new church, the budgets will be united.
Q: What happens to our ministries, small groups, and classes during negotiations?
A: During Negotiation phase, all ministries and classes will continue as they have. Please continue to serve in every way the Lord enables.
Q: What if we have questions, who do we ask?
A: The elders of both churches are available to answer any questions you may have. Do not hesitate to ask.
Q: How can I find updates on the negotiation meetings?
A: The elders will communicate the conclusions of these meetings using printed handouts at church, posting information on the church’s website, and mailing out a newsletter. As always, you may ask any elder for updates.
Q: Are the negotiation meetings open to anyone?
A: At this time, the negotiation meetings will be for the Elders only. In the future, they have plans to invite various ministry leaders into the discussions.
Q: What will happen if the votes fail?
A: If the final vote fails, our churches will remain separate. CornerstonePiqua will continue to meet at Piqua Baptist Church on Sunday evenings as they search for a new meeting place.
Q: What should I do in the meantime?
A: Two things. First, pray for the Lord’s will to be done. Ask the Lord to grant wisdom to the elders to lead and serve the churches well during this phase. Second, get to know know another. Involve yourself in church events, serve on servant teams, and invite people into your home. Participate in Sunday School. Get to church early and engage others in conversation.
Q: Can I join the church before our churches unite:
A: We love your interest in church membership! At this point, the elders have decided to hold off on conducting membership classes until after our churches are united. Once the new church is formed and a new membership covenant is defined, we will conduct membership classes. Stay tuned!
Q: Where are we in the process?
A: As of early April, we are working to create a combined Statement of Faith/Constitution. The elders have ben greatly encouraged bt the theological unity our churches share. Most of the major theological matters have been worked through and settled. In the coming weeks, we will proceed to our ecclesiology, what we believe about the church. There we will determine church governance and structure. Please pray for God's grace and wisdom. From there we turn to our methodology, how we do ministry.
Q: Why are negotiations taking so long? When will we be done?
A: We are seeking to move at a pace appropriate to the task. These are important matters and should not be rushed. We understand this complicates ministry in our churches, but we trust it is better in the long run,. Thank you for being patient.
We will be done when a new statement of faith/constitution is completed, a new membership covenant is complete, and the roles and responsibilities of officers established. We will place the new documents before the membership of both churches to consider before taking a final vote.
Q: Why do you call Elders "Pastors"? What is the difference?
A: Every elder is a pastor; every pastor is an elder. The word pastor comes from the Latin word for shepherd. The New Testament uses three terms to describe the same office: elder, overseer, and shepherd. In Acts 20:17, Paul calls the “elders” of the church to come to him. In verse 28 he calls these same men “overseers”. In that same verse, he tells them to “care” for the church. The word “care” in Greek is a verb form of the noun “shepherd”. Similarly, the Apostle Peter addresses elders in 1Peter 5:1-5. He tells them to “shepherd the flock of God”. Again, from the word shepherd we get pastor. Every elder is a pastor; every pastor is an elder. In the New Testament, the words pastor, elder, and overseer are used interchangeably, with each word providing a different emphasis on their role and responsibilities.
Q: What does and Elder/Pastor do?
A: Elders have four broad responsibilities in the local church. They (1) teach the Bible; (2) oversee the church; (3) care for the people; and (4) protect the congregation from spiritual danger. First, elders teach God’s word to God’s people (Eph. 4:11). They build the church under their care by “preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). Second, elders oversee the flock entrusted to them (1Pet 5:2). Elders manage God's church (1Tim. 3:4-5), leading, guiding, and governing according to the revelation of Scripture and Christian prudence. Third, pastors are to care sincerely for the people entrusted to them by God (Acts 20:28). A pastor must be genuinely concerned for the welfare of every member of his church, not seeking his own interests, but those of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:19-21). Like Christ, he nourishes, cherishes, and cares for the people of God (Eph. 5:25-30). Fourth, elders protect the flock, looking out for “wolves” that can come from inside or from outside the church (Acts 20:28-30). Elders are to remain alert, paying close attention to the congregation. When they discern potential sources of spiritual danger, they remove it from the church.