Parable of the leaven
New houses of worship launched at OKC bakery, north Edmond
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.