New church targets service to people of southeast W-S

Chantal McKinney is the founding pastor of Christ's Beloved Community.

New church targets service to people of southeast W-S
November 15
10:00 2018

On Sunday, Nov. 4, Christ’s Beloved Community held a community celebration to commemorate the opening of the church for worship. 

Christ’s Beloved first began as a street ministry and then grew into a bilingual food pantry on the south side of the city.  After three years of meeting their southside neighbors, the food pantry morphed into a worshipping community.

The celebration Sunday afternoon began with a community potluck lunch, followed by the worship service. The BIG CELEBRATION was the last item on the agenda. It included food, bounce houses and music for the congregation and community to enjoy.

Chantal McKinney, founding pastor, says it has been a long journey for them to come to this point. She says their goal is to help those in the southeast part of the city with whatever needs they can.

“We started with a team of Episcopalians from local churches and long before that I had conversations with our bishops because there was a call on my heart,” said McKinney. “We started intentionally going into more humble areas of the city to get to know people.

“Rather than us telling people we are a new church and this is the ministry we are going to do, we got to know our neighbors and built relationships with them,” she continued.  “We asked them not only about their needs, but about their blessings and their gifts.”

Christ’s Beloved is a multi-cultural church, centered on Jesus Christ and born of two traditional denominations. McKinney is Episcopalian and the pastoral intern, Emily Norris, is Lutheran. Grounded in those two mainline denominations, Christ’s Beloved is spiritually fed by breaking bread together, according to the church.

Betty Dillard has been with Christ’s Beloved since the beginning. She said she has been in church for a long time and has noticed the congregations becoming smaller and smaller over the years. 

“When I was young, everyone went to church, that was just something everyone did on Sunday mornings,” she said.  “As I have experienced church, church meant what I could give to others. That was my personal ministry and when I met Chantal, her philosophy meshed with mine.”

It was Dillard’s idea for the ministry to open up a food pantry. She said she knows it is hard for people to worship while they are hungry. The church food pantry is open three days a month and serves anyone who is hungry.

“That has been one of my blessings and it will be a year old in March,” she said about the pantry.  “I am looking for projects and ways to expand what we can do for the community. If we do what God wants us to do, they will come.”

According to McKinney, their entire thought process was for the church to mirror the demographics of the community.  Since their area is made up mostly of minorities, they wanted the church to reflect that as well.

Christ’s Beloved is now worshipping in the former Christ Lutheran Church at 3205 S. Main St. McKinney says they totally renovated the church with their own members, because it needed updating.

McKinney and Dillard say their first service recently on  Sunday was a total success. They said the BIG CELEBRATION afterward was the icing on the cake, so to speak.

“We just wanted to celebrate all that we have been through,” said McKinney.

The plan going forward is to serve a lunch prior to every Sunday service. They feel that if they continue to reach out to the community, the people will come and grow the congregation.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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