We've had a couple of parish mergers in Rhode Island in the last year or so. One was Church of the Advent, Pawtucket joining with Good Shepherd, Pawtucket. More recently, on the Day of Pentecost, two Providence parishes merged. Church of the Messiah, Olneyville joined with Grace Church.
If you are curious what it's like, liturgically, to deconsecrate a building (to return it to secular use) and to join two parishes, the current issue of the Grace Church newsletter (PDF) has a nice write-up of the day. There's also a profile of a parishioner, Lucia Bomster, worth reading. She was senior warden at Messiah, and she write about her experience coming to Grace Church. Rather than seeing this moment of uncertainty and transition as a time of fear, Bomster writes about the possibilities it brings:
The warm welcome and inclusion that Grace has off ered to both my Messiah family and my smaller personal family feels so much like that acceptance that Messiah blessed me with 16 years ago. Even though merging with another church was not one of the paths any of us wished for or dreamed to be God's plan for us, I have come to see this part of our journey in a very different light. I see this merger as a blessing too. I look forward to the two church families blending our different gifts and strengths together and becoming a stronger and more effective "tool" of God. It is beginning already with the creation of the Blending Team and the joining of our two Christian Ed teams!! I can’t wait to see where this part of the journey takes us!
This kind of hope is something we need more of. Speaking of things we need more of, I commend the Grace Church newsletter, which is posted on their website. It's nice looking and filled with fresh content. If your parish newsletter looks stale and takes only a few seconds to read, it's time to update. Grace Church's newsletter might make a fine model.