Skillman Church of Christ. Photo by Sam Gillespie.

Skillman Church of Christ will not merge with a non-denominational church in Tarrant County.

Out of 144 Skillman Church members who voted June 12, 94 marked their ballot to move ahead with the merger with The Hills congregation, falling two votes short of the required 96 votes, a two-thirds supermajority.

Skillman Church of Christ has been a significant presence in Lakewood Heights since opening its doors in 1953. The relationship with the community has diminished as the church struggled with declining membership.

The Advocate recently reported on the crossroads facing Skillman Church of Christ. The church has been wrestling with a dwindling congregation for years, and the existing elder leadership of the church sought a merger with The Hills to boost membership. Now with three locations in Tarrant County, The Hills has a track record of growing churches and has expressed a desire to expand to Dallas.

Others in the congregation felt the church could reboot with a new commitment centered on inclusion and service. The wholesale transfer of the real estate and financial resources to The Hills also troubled some members.

The path forward is complicated. Sixty-five percent of the congregation believed a merger was the right way forward, but the elder leadership of the church, who supported the merger, needed two more votes for two-thirds approval.

“We will refocus our energies on bringing ourselves together and serving God as a body of Christ,” says David Williams, one of three elders of the church. “The members of Skillman must all recommit ourselves to God’s service — however that looks. We will continue to serve the community through the Skillman Child Develop Center, youth basketball and other local programs. We are here for Lakewood.”

“We need a period of healing,” says Don Williams, a 50-year member of the church who opposed the merger. “Once that is over I believe we can reboot Skillman Church of Christ 2.0 with a message of service to the members, community and the poor.”

The group opposing the merger has mentioned White Rock United Methodist Church as a model for their vision of what Skillman Church of Christ could look like.

The divisions in the church are significant. The way forward is cloudy. The community hopes a final resolution includes strengthening the connection between the neighborhoods and this important landmark in Lakewood Heights.

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