Missouri Church Seeks to Make Imprint on Neighborhood

Post a Comment » Written on January 23rd, 2009     
Filed under: News
KANSAS CITY, MO (January 23, 2009) – It has been a journey fraught with hardships for the City Church congregation, but one that is now bringing exciting change to the local community.

The congregation meets in the historic First Evangelical Covenant building in the Westport area of Kansas City. Pastor Robert Johnson took over as pastor of the small Covenant congregation in 2004 and began a revitalization project that has focused on re-establishing the church’s presence in the community.

“There’s really been a total transformation in the last few years,” Johnson says. “For all intensive purposes, City Church should be a dead church, but it’s been totally revitalized.”

City Church has focused on making its presence known in the neighborhood. The church recently started Angel Food, a grocery co-op program. “It’s just one of the ways we’re showing Christ’s love in our community” says Johnson. “People are able to get $60 worth of groceries for half the price.”

Because of the program, he adds, “There are a lot of homeless men and women who are able to get groceries.” People now call daily to ask how they can qualify.

The church also has taken steps to be involved in local schools, participating in the Restoration Center, a partnership with the state of Missouri that aims to teach kids life skills. The church has set up a computer lab and a tutoring center for students helping with math and reading.

“We’re helping them with book reports, school papers, and study skills, but mostly showing them the love of Christ” says Johnson. “If they can’t read textbooks, they’re certainly going to have trouble reading the word of God.”

Volunteers focus on reminding students that they have an important place in their community and the church. “We want to communicate to them that they’re important to God by showing them that they’re important to us,” says Johnson.

While City Church is engaged in a breadth of vibrant ministries in the community, the congregation is not without its challenges.

“We serve a young crowd with a lot of new converts, so the main challenge is to have able-bodied Christians to meet the need,” says Johnson. “We have a huge harvest, but sometimes the workers are few.”

The church also faces financial limitations, an obstacle that has been a real issue as the church attempts to send some students to this summer’s CHIC event in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Despite the challenges, two-year attendee and current church administrator Nancy Chumley reports that the community at City Church is vibrant and diverse.

“There’s such an accepting community across race, creed and color,” says Chumley. “My first experience here was with leading a women’s Bible Study, and I knew from that time forward that God was calling me here.”

Johnson echoes the sentiments, casting a vision for the continued life of a church oriented toward service in the neighborhood. “A lot of times we like to serve where we’re comfortable. City Church is not a place where you can sit back and be comfortable, but a place where you really are challenged to get out and use your gifts to serve the body of Christ.”

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