Para­ble of the leaven

New houses of wor­ship launched at OKC bak­ery, north Ed­mond

The Oklahoman - - FRONT PAGE - BY CARLA HIN­TON Re­li­gion Ed­i­tor chin­ton@ok­la­

Memo­rial Road Church of Christ has started a new church in­side Brown’s Bak­ery in Mid­town.

Week­days, Wil­liam “Billy” Brown cre­ates pas­tries, cakes and other treats at his fam­ily owned Ok­la­homa City bak­ery.

Come Sun­day, Brown finds his way back to the Mid­town es­tab­lish­ment — only this time, he’s there to go to church.

Shun­ning a cookie-cut­ter ap­proach to church plant­ing, Memo­rial Road Church of Christ launched a new church at Brown’s Bak­ery last fall.

The church, called Serve Mid­town Church of Christ, is one of two new churches that have been started by Memo­rial Road, 2221 E Memo­rial Road.

A sec­ond new church, Her­itage Church of Christ, was launched in Jan­uary.

Terry Fis­cher, Memo­rial Road’s com­mu­nity out­reach min­is­ter, said lead­ers at the Ed­mond-area church be­gan ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of plant­ing new churches about three years ago.

Fis­cher said they en­vi­sioned plant­ing a small church in the Mid­town area so they searched for a site where about 25 fam­i­lies could be­gin gath­er­ing for wor­ship.

Brown, pres­i­dent of Brown’s Bak­ery, said he sug­gested his fam­ily’s bak­ery as a meet­ing place for the new Mid­town con­gre­ga­tion, and church lead­ers liked the idea.

Fis­cher said the vol­un­teerled con­gre­ga­tion meets at the bak­ery, 1100 N Walker Ave., on Sun­day morn­ings. He said the con­gre­ga­tion re­cently adopted a refugee fam­ily and are work­ing to­gether to come along­side the com­mu­nity new­com­ers.

Brown said the con­gre­ga­tion is made up of many young cou­ples who live in the Mid­town area and some in­di­vid­u­als who came over from Memo­rial Road Church of Christ. He said the church cur­rently has a good prob­lem be­cause mem­bers might have out­grown the bak­ery, and there is a pos­si­bil­ity that the group will be able to meet in a larger space on the bak­ery prop­erty.

“It’s a neat out­reach,” he said. “It’s re­ally taken off.”

Brown of­ten sets out cof­fee, dough­nuts and sausage rolls for the group to eat be­fore wor­ship,

and the con­gre­ga­tion some­times shares a potluck meal af­ter ser­vices at the bak­ery. Oc­ca­sion­ally, a cus­tomer will see the peo­ple in­side and ven­ture in seek­ing to buy some­thing. Brown said in­di­vid­u­als typ­i­cally leave once they are told the bak­ery is closed on Sun­day, but a few times, the po­ten­tial cus­tomer has stayed for the wor­ship gath­er­ing.

It’s been an honor to host the church gath­er­ings, he said.

“I feel like it’s a priv­i­lege for us to do this. I feel like this is giv­ing back to God. All of this be­longs to God any­way,” Brown said.

Re­spond­ing to growth

Fis­cher said lead­ers de­cided to send about 70 fam­i­lies north to plant the Her­itage con­gre­ga­tion be­cause of growth in the north­east Ed­mond area.

Travis Akins was cho­sen as min­is­ter for the new church. He said the con­gre­ga­tion ini­tially met at the “mother church” — Memo­rial Road — to al­low church mem­bers to get to know one an­other bet­ter.

The con­gre­ga­tion be­gan wor­ship­ping at Her­itage El­e­men­tary School, 400 E Sorghum Mill Road, in Au­gust. He said about 100 peo­ple at­tended church ser­vices on a re­cent Sun­day.

In Septem­ber, the new church hosted a fes­ti­val and wor­ship at Sorghum Mill and Broad­way Av­enue.

Akins said the fes­ti­val site was cho­sen be­cause Memo­rial Road pur­chased that prop­erty with plans to build a stand­alone church build­ing for the new church plant.

Akins said the prop­erty pur­chase was ex­cit­ing be­cause it will en­sure the church’s long-term in­vest­ment in the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity.

He said it would have been eas­ier for Memo­rial Road church lead­ers to open an­other church cam­pus, but they didn’t.

“To re­lin­quish that, to say we want this church to re­flect this neigh­bor­hood, is great,” Akins said.

The Her­itage con­gre­ga­tion has out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties planned to get to know res­i­dents in the nearby neigh­bor­hoods. A Trunk or Treat event will be on Oct. 28 at the Sorghum Mill Road and Broad­way Av­enue site. The free event will in­clude a hayride, pet­ting zoo and candy.

“It’s ex­cit­ing for us to have op­por­tu­ni­ties to share the Gospel and to have the thought that there are neigh­bors up there for those op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Akins said.


Peo­ple share a meal af­ter wor­ship ser­vices at a new Memo­rial Road Church of Christ church plant called Serve Mid­town at Brown’s Bak­ery in Ok­la­homa City.Travis Akins, min­is­ter of the new Her­itage Church of Christ, stands out­side Ed­mond’s Her­itage El­e­men­tary School., where his con­gre­ga­tion cur­rently meets for wor­ship.

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