I am the pastor of a 105 year old church that was once the largest Methodist congregation in Missouri.
I am also the pastor of a 2 year old church that has become one of the fastest-growing congregations in Missouri.
But here's the thing: these churches share the same building, and they operate under the same 501(c)3 designation. After years of consistent decline, Broadway UMC (the 105 year old church) chose to launch Redemption (the 2 year old) as a church-within-a-church. And now, after more than two years together, these two communities have chosen to come together as one.
This is a historic decision for a few different reasons. The United Methodist Church has tinkered with the church-within-a-church model for a few years now. Geovanna and I have been a part of three CWAC projects now. And every time so far, things have gone one of two ways. Either the new church grows so fast that the "old church" can't handle it (like what happened when our Iglesia Camino, Verdad, y Vida outgrew its original building and moved on), or the "old church" has declined so much that it's just kind of swallowed up by the new church (like at Westport UMC and Revolution).
This time, though, we're seeing this model serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of an existing, historic United Methodist Church. By coming together, Broadway and Redemption have made a dramatic statement to our denomination: there can be a way to resurrect urban congregations from the grave!
The name we have chosen, Keystone, recalls our history as well as our future. The Keystone Sunday School Class was a foundational part of Broadway's beginnings, and the Keystone Coffeehouse was the room where Redemption was born.
What's more important is what the image of a "keystone" means. The keystone is the center stone at the top of an arch...the stone that holds all things together. Our new church is incredibly diverse. We're young and old, poor and rich, liberal and conservative, straight and gay, black, white, and everything in between, but we are One in Christ Jesus, who is our Keystone, holding us together.
The discernment and decision-making process has been amazing. We truly have come together as one church. We still have a long way to go launching our new website, signage, and other promotional stuff. We're getting there. If you have friends in Kansas City who don't have a faith community, but might appreciate a diverse, multi-generational church, send them our way. The Keystone United Methodist Church in Waldo will be here to welcome them with open arms.