When the doors open Sunday at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, parishioners will welcome a whole new church - literally.
That's because, at 10 a.m. Sunday, Prince of Peace will welcome members of Community of Christ Lutheran Church as the two Schaumburg congregations officially merge.
Bishop Kenneth R. Olsen, leader of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will officiate at the celebration of unity service. He also will install the Rev. Jeff Fricke, former pastor of Community of Christ, as the new associate pastor at Prince of Peace.
"We're just delighted," said the Rev. Don Myrom, pastor of Prince of Peace. "It's just a shot in the arm for us."
The two churches started discussing the possibility of merging last fall, after Community of Christ began exploring the idea of disbanding and merging with another Lutheran church.
Community of Christ had been facing financial pressures and slowed growth, challenges the church hopes a merger will help solve, Myrom said.
"They felt that they were just on a plateau, and the best impact they could make was by merging with us," Myrom said, adding that the merger is lifting spirits at Prince of Peace, as well.
Both churches see a number of benefits to unifying, including an increased membership at Prince of Peace and an additional pastor on its staff.
Prince of Peace, which has a membership of about 400 families, expects to gain 40 to 45 more families from Community of Christ, Myrom said.
The sale of Community of Christ's building and property to St. Matthew Catholic Church also will benefit Prince of Peace.
Such church mergers are rare, and Community of Christ deserves credit for acting on the idea while it had strength as a congregation, Myrom said.
Services at Prince of Peace, 930 W. Higgins Road, will continue at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and at 8:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. Sunday.
The church plans to add a counseling center for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and expand Rainbows for All God's Children, a program for divorced families. …