Trinity and Fourth United Methodist churches are marrying each other.

Since July 2011, the two congregations have been worshiping together at Fourth UMC, 1067 E. Market St in York City

Earlier that year, Trinity had been forced to leave its worship place at 251 E. King St. in York City because of extensive roof problems. The building -- which was slated for demolition -- was eventually sold to another congregation.

With the sale complete, the Trinity and Fourth congregations made their merger official on Oct. 20 this year, said the Rev. Mitch Galloway, Fourth's pastor.

At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the congregations will celebrate the merger with a wedding-like ceremony, said Bob Bowman, a 20-year Fourth member who is helping organize the service. A reception will be held after the service.

"It's a time for us to really celebrate a wonderful thing that has happened for both our congregations," said Bowman, 49. "Now, we're celebrating being in support of one another and moving forward in the love of Christ."

The main portion of Sunday's service will be a sand ceremony where the two congregations will repeat commitment vows prepared by Galloway. Then a representative from Trinity and from Fourth will each get a container of different color sand to pour -- at the same time -- into one vessel.

"The idea is that the colors cannot be separated, and they've become new," Galloway said. "For me, it's been a joy to see how the two congregations blended together into one family."


The service also will feature singing from the church's children's and adult choirs and praise team, all featuring members of both congregations. Fourth's orchestra also will perform, said Galloway.

Blending: Fourth's congregation is benefiting from the former Trinity members, who brought the praise team and outreach ministry programs with them, he said.

Fourth also hired Trinity's former music director and is enjoying how all the choirs are flourishing, said Galloway, who was a youth and children's director at Trinity in the mid-1970s.

Jennifer Wireman, who grew up in Trinity, will be singing in one of the choirs during Sunday's service. Her husband, Bill, recently joined Fourth, and their 3-month-old son Nathaniel was baptized at the church on Oct. 28, she said.

Wireman, 35, served on a leadership committee that searched for a new congregation for Trinity members to join. About 40 of Trinity's 100-plus families have joined Fourth, she said.

"With this marriage service, we're so filled with happiness to get together and move forward with Fourth and be a part of God's plan to reach out to this area," Wireman said. "We're very excited. We're in it for the long haul."

Wireman said that while she understands the safety issues involved in leaving the Trinity building, the letting-go process was heartbreaking.

However, the Fourth congregation has welcomed Trinity's former members, including renaming Fourth's fellowship hall "Trinity Hall," Wireman and Galloway said.

"It's a tribute to our old congregation," Wireman said. "It's nice to have that reminder of where we came from."