The congregations of Cutler Ridge United Methodist Church in Cutler Bay and Perrine-Peters United Methodist Church in Palmetto Bay will merge soon.
During an interview with Rev. Paul M. Cook of Perrine-Peters United Methodist Church and Rev. Amber Massingill of Cutler Ridge United Methodist Church, Rev. Cook began by explaining the time frame.
“The two congregations will begin worshipping together on May 24 at the current Perrine-Peters site on US1,” he said. “The merger will take effect officially on July 1 of this year. In the interim we’ll be operating as two separate congregations, but on July 1 it officially becomes one congregation.”
While parishioners are attending services at Perrine-Peters for a number of months, perhaps a year, renovations will be taking place at the Cutler Ridge church, according to Rev. Massingill.
“The first step will involve the worship area, which is why the change on Sundays,” Rev. Massingill said. “And also some long-range planning for the whole campus, developing the property and doing any kind of improvements. The merger is certainly a vision to strengthen our presence in the communities and to provide continuing excellent pre-school, excellent community outreach and to have our combined resources in every sense of the word to be able to do that.”
Rev. Cook added that he expects the merger to work well since the groups have so much in common.
“The two congregations are very similar already as far as the makeup and the personalities, if you will,” Rev. Cook said. “So it makes a lot of sense in many ways for them to come together as one and to operate under one roof. We definitely want to emphasize our ability to serve the community and our interest in being a presence in this particular community.”
There are currently a little more than 100 people worshiping on Sundays at Perrine- Peters and 80 more at Cutler Ridge, on average. Actual membership at each church is easily three times that many, but attendance tends to fluctuate, both pastors report. Modern day lifestyle changes have impacted the numbers.
“Some people have jobs that require them to work on Sundays, and kids have sports,” Rev. Massingill said. “There’s so much competition on Sundays alone. One of the things we hope to able to do in the future is offer worship at times other than Sundays, possibly Saturday night or multiple Sunday services, and by coming together and combining our resources, then we can do things like that.”
Once the renovations are completed the services for the combined congregation will shift to the Cutler Ridge church location as the new permanent home. The pastors stress that before, during and after the renovation work, the pre-school will continue to operate at the Cutler Ridge United Methodist Church location at 20740 Old Cutler Rd., because it will not be affected by the work in the worship area.
“We currently have 80 children in the preschool and it has had an excellent reputation for over 40 years in our community,” Rev. Massingill said. “Our current staff is all continuing. As the pastor of one of the congregations I’ve been impressed with the cooperative spirit of the people and the innovation that they are willing to pursue. The attitude of everybody has been positive.”
Rev. Massingill will be relocating with her family to Fort Worth, TX. Her husband also is a United Methodist pastor and originally is from Dallas. She has been living in Cutler Bay for six years. June 14 will be her last Sunday.
Sunday services will be at 10:30 a.m. at Perrine-Peters United Methodist Church, 18301 S. Dixie Hwy. For information call the Cutler Ridge Church at 305-235-6651 or the Perrine-Peters Church at 305-235- 2309.