On August 24, 2008, following a year of planning for a possible merger, separate congregational meetings were held at Perkins Presbyterian and Sarah Hearn Memorial Presbyterian Churches for the purpose of voting on the Plan of Union. At the same meetings, separate votes were taken on the preferred name for the possible new church. Both congregations strongly approved the Plan of Union, and selected the name: New Hope Presbyterian Church.
On Tuesday, September 16, 2008, the Presbytery of Lake Erie approved the merger and the creation of the New Hope Presbyterian Church of Erie, Pennsylvania. The first service at New Hope Presbyterian Church was conducted on October 5. Reverend Doctor Dwayne Cole was employed as a Temporary Stated Supply Pastor, holding his first service on October 19.
In a unique way, the merger of these two churches represented a homecoming. Both the Perkins and Sarah Hearn Churches had developed from mission outreaches of the former Park Presbyterian Church in downtown Erie, which itself ended as a result of a merger on February 8, 1929. Thus, the newly created New Hope Presbyterian Church represents a family reunion of siblings who have spent approximately three-quarters of a century apart.
We are grateful that the New Hope Presbyterian Church has had a strong and promising beginning, yet recognize that we are only at the beginning of a new life. As with any new life, it will be necessary to tend carefully to the needs of this new church so that it will grow strong, healthy, and maintain the values that will bring added meaning to the lives of its members and to the greater community.
There are early signs that we are on the right path. Attendance at worship services is currently averaging more than 100 congregants, with a trend toward slowly increasing growth. Pledges have been strong, and collections have been running ahead of expectation. Committees are well attended, active, and effective. Numerous mission activities have been supported. And among the most promising signs is the presence of a small, yet growing, group of youth.