GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- St. Mary's Church is deeply rooted in history as the city's first mission, growing with native american converts back in the 1800's. But this Sunday, the congregation worries they'll lose that history.
Mike Braunschneider, a church member says, "Many of us, and our families have had such rich heritage here, my great grandfather built the church, he was a carpenter-- so those roots run very deep."
Recently the diocese decided to merge St. Mary's with neighboring parishes. While the building will remain members say the church's identity is its people.
Judy Kurylowicz, a church member says, "We're all family here, and this is what St. Mary's church is all about. It's about being a family and a community and doing something that means something to us."
St. Mary's serves food to 240 needy families twice a month. Jerri Schmidt's family has been worshiping here for four generations. She worries that the her traditions as well as hispanic service will disappear.
"We also represent the hispanic community, we're they're only lower west side church that represents the lower west side hispanic community."
But the church says the merger will not mean services will end-- but admits times will change.
Aaron Ferris, St. Mary's Administrator says, "There will certainly be mass here, and sacraments and funerals and weddings, and all those things."
He says the merger is because there are not enough priests to go around.
"Administratively it will change. Right now it exists in separate parishes. The idea is those would be merged-- administratively not as much work on that side."
But until the changes go into effect, the congregation is holding a human rosary to pray for a different outcome.