Small Church Spotlights

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    There’s still “Plenty of Room” in the Church Family in Iowa City

    If one word could describe the Iowa City church congregation, perhaps it is “diversity”.  Take for example, the various professions of employment of the members. It’s kind of like the butcher, baker and candlestick maker as the old nursery rhyme conveys! Professions include organic vegetable farming, accounting, elementary education, physician, dietary services, construction, financial planners, etc. Additionally, three families home school their children while others learned their 3R’s in public or Christian schools. Three couples are primarily retired, but keep quite busy with many family, church, and personal activities.  

    These are just a few glimpses into the blend of people that comprise the church family in Iowa City. While they all have different walks of life, they worship and fellowship as the “family of God” each Sunday and Wednesday evening.  Despite the miles that separate, they have close and caring relationships, share a strong faith and above all, a love for the Lord. The brethren and friends wholeheartedly invite you to visit to get to know them better or if you feel led by the Lord to consider moving to the area to assist with the work in the vineyard of North Liberty and the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids corridor. 

    Church Evolves through College Campus Services and Purchase of Building 

    While only one student is currently enrolled at a nearby Kirkwood Community College, the Iowa City Apostolic Christian Church originated in 1964 through monthly evening services held on the University of Iowa campus.  Ministers from the Oakville and Burlington churches primarily supported these services. Due to growth and the need to better accommodate the areas where the 19 members were living (some in Cedar Rapids), a small mortuary chapel was purchased in the town of North Liberty, Iowa, which is located north of Iowa City. Renovations were done to the building with funding assistance from the brotherhood. Over the years, the church’s attendance has fluctuated, but currently 24 members and a considerable number of friends provide the normal Sunday worship attendance ranging from 20 to 45. Bro. Joe Gerst started serving in the ministry on November 5, 1978, the first Sunday in the new church. He later became the Ordained Deacon and Bro. Jim Butikofer was added into the ministry in 2001. Brother Jon Schmidgall of the Oakville-Mediapolis church (located 65 miles south) has oversight responsibilities.  

    Wednesday Evening Services Varied to Accommodate Travel 

    Diverse (or varied) is also what describes Wednesday evening services and makes the church a bit unique. Because of the travel time involved for many families, events that might occur on other nights in congregations where church families are clustered, happen on different Wednesday evenings. One evening is dedicated to a “project night” which includes making HarvestCall kits. Others consist of singing, formal worship service and listening to a recorded sermon. Brethren usually share a snack to extend fellowship after mid-week activities.   The church members are also involved in a variety of outreach activities into the community and are looking at ways to expand their reach. Twice each month, they sing in area nursing homes. At Christmas, they maintain a tradition of caroling to nearby widows and retirement home residents. They have recently begun using some of their project nights to do service in the community. These activities and a monthly Sunday potluck also serve as additional fellowship times.

    Rewards and Challenges of Small Church Living 

    One of the challenges the Iowa City church faces is the large distance between families. While the church is centrally located, the closest family lives about 15 minutes away. Many members live an hour or more away. The church congregation is also small in number. In spite of these challenges, the brethren feel very blessed. Living in a small church has many rewards including feeling like a family and increased opportunities to participate in church duties. Since the variety of the gifts and talents of the brethren in the church are utilized, they understand how important each one is to the whole and how they fit in. With that, they are able to value and truly appreciate each one in the family. Consider a Visit or Move to the Area 

    The church sign says “All Welcome”. 

    The congregation asks for your prayers that they can continue to grow in unity and love. And, if the Lord wills, to add a few additional members to the congregation to assist with the work in the vineyard to present the gospel message of salvation to the lost in alignment with Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19:20) and our church’s four Pillar Mission. There truly is “still plenty of room” in the church family of God.

    Visiting Iowa City Church

    To visit, check the Apostolic Christian Churches and Ministers book for information about service times and directions or go online to www.apostolicchristian.org (click on “Find A Congregation” tab)


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    Church in St. Louis poised for growth

    “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” John 4:24

    St. Louis is a small church that is now taking significant strides toward growing in number and closeness to God and to one another. With the help of Church Establishment Committee (CEC) brethren, a pilot “bolstering” program was started last year to look at church health and ways to grow through outreach. The CEC, a HarvestCall committee, selected the church largely due to the existing spirit of love and unity already being practiced among the brethren and friends. The congregation is continuing to build upon this foundation as they look to establish a local church vision and explore ways to reach out into the community. Brethren from the churches in Taylor, Missouri and Champaign, Illinois are also wrapping their arms lovingly around the congregation to provide support in various capacities. In this article, we look at the heart of the St. Louis church today, how it began and things the church has been doing to foster outreach. 

    Meet the St. Louis Congregation 

    The St. Louis church body is now comprised of mostly young couples with small children. In total, six families, three singles, plus 15 children worship at the church on a typical Sunday. The strong presence of youth provides great hope for the future. Bro. Loren Schrenk and Bro. Nathan Rassi share the pulpit ministry. The church family also enjoys visits from other ministers through monthly scheduled minister rotations. On that weekend, a potluck dinner and hymn sing are planned for the church to attend. Bro. Kent Heimer, from Taylor, MO, has oversight for the church. 

    In the Beginning 

    On November 22, 1981, the “Gateway to the West,” became the site of an Apostolic Christian Church at the Harley Hotel in suburban St. Louis. In January of the next year, members began meeting at the Ben Franklin Motel in St. Louis and a schedule of visiting ministers was established. 

    In September 1986, Bro. Loren Schrenk and his family moved to the area. With the arrival of more people in 1987, the frequency of services was increased to three times per month. In 1988, members expressed a desire for their own church building, and efforts were made to obtain land at the present site. The first service in the new church building was held on March 10, 1992, and the church has had ups and downs since that time. 

    Opportunities for Service 

    The church family is actively spreading the gospel in their areas of employment and with neighbors and friends, including supporting a prison ministry, aftercare program and the children of incarcerated men and women. 

    They are also serving the Lord through serving others in many capacities. Some of these include working through HarvestCall to support those in need locally, nationally and internationally, and participating in a Christian-based tutoring program for immigrant children in the city. The church members, however, would like to be doing more in the area of outreach but feel limited due to the demands of everyday family living. With the help of the Church Establishment brethren, they are looking at options including starting Vacation Bible School to teach their own youth and interested friends.  

    To nurture the believers, members and friends meet for Sunday and Wednesday evening services, Bible studies and monthly potlucks and hymn singings. 

    Challenges of small church living 

    Proximity among the church families poses a challenge with fellowship. An hour’s drive separates some families, with some living in Missouri and some in Illinois. Additionally, the church has few intergenerational families. As a result, people “go home” for holidays and other family events, leaving very few people in St. Louis for services. 

    How you can help

    If you have a heart to help fulfill the desire of a small church to grow in number and assist with outreach efforts, please prayerfully consider a visit or move to the St. Louis area. The city has a good economy with many job opportunities, especially in the areas of healthcare, life science research and education. Numerous and interesting sightseeing options abound. 

    As God would move in hearts, all who answer the call would be welcome. A special plea, however, goes out to middle-aged couples with teenage children to fill a missing demographic within the church. 

    For those interested in relocating to the area, the church is blessed with a newly renovated 3-bedroom house on the property that is available to rent immediately. 

    Contact Ministering Bro. Loren Schrenk if you are interested in becoming part of the close-knit St. Louis church family and sharing their vision for outreach and church growth.  

    To visit, check the 2016 Minister book for information about services. 

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    Wichita, Kansas Church Proclaims God’s Love and Gospel Message

    In driving to the Wichita, Kansas church on a typical Sunday, you will go through the downtown area where an extensive revitalization is currently underway. Several buildings are being turned into loft apartments, and shops and eateries are now open in an old warehouse district. The church is located less than two miles from the downtown area and can be classified as an inner city church in the city of 500,000 people.

    Once inside the church, we join approximately 14 families and 8 singles that gather on an average Sunday. The ages for adults span from 25 years on up and Sunday School aged children range from 5 to 17. As you worship and fellowship, you will feel the love from all the brethren and friends. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Brother Cory Metzger, who was recently named as Ordained Deacon, ministers to the church. Additionally one time per month, the church enjoys hosting visiting ministers, their families and others that attend with them through the National Church Minister Rotation. Ministering Bro. Glen Funk recently retired, and Bro. Max Reimschisel also served the church faithfully for many years in this capacity but now is retired too. On two Wednesday evenings per month, the congregation meets for a singing supper and prayer time at homes.

    Community Outreach

    The congregation keeps striving to press on in the service of King Jesus, showing the love of Christ to one another and their community. Local outreach efforts have resulted in four individuals from the neighborhood attending services. Individuals are also involved in Union Rescue Mission work serving the homeless as well as a Bible Mission to send Bibles to the Ukraine area. Potluck events are also held for the local congregation for fellowship. Members and friends live approximately 30 minutes apart from each other, which makes getting together challenging. The nearest other Apostolic Christian churches are Lamont-Gridley, KS, which is 90 miles to the northeast and Kiowa, 90 miles to the southwest. Elder Bro. Jay Luthi from Lamont-Gridley, Kansas has elder oversight for the Wichita church.

    Church Roots date to Early 1900’s

    The church building was built in 1938. Roots date back as early .as 1911 that Apostolic Christians moved to the area. Between that time and 1937, people continued to move to the area and meet for singing, prayer and Bible reading in homes (according to Marching to Zion). The church served the congregation well until 1973 when a new sanctuary was added and the old was converted into a Sunday School. Locals comment that they as well as visitors are always inspired by the excellent acoustics in the sanctuary which lend to a joyful noise being made to the Lord when they unite their voices in singing.

    City has Small Town Atmosphere

    According to church members, the town of Wichita still has a friendly small town atmosphere even though it is a good size metropolis. Originally, the city was an Indian village. Cattle drives caused a boom with cattle yards, cattle barons and a railhead, which is the furthest point that the railroad was built and caused other roads and transportation routes to be constructed. The Arkansas River also runs through the city. Further, the aircraft industry centered itself in Wichita with names such as Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech, Bill Lear and Lloyd Stearman. World War 2 stirred a large production of aircraft giving employment opportunities to many. Additionally, Koch Industries Inc., which produces clothing and many other products has its headquarters located in Wichita and is a large employer.

    Opportunities / Needs of the Congregation

    Everyone is encouraged to pray for and visit the loving brethren and friends in the Wichita congregation. They would truly welcome the encouragement and support from national brethren and friends. Please call one of the contacts listed in the church minister book so they can plan accordingly for lunch, etc. If you visit, enjoy sightseeing options such as museums, the Sedgewick County Zoo or take a bike ride on a trail along the river. If you drive, plan to visit the Flint Hills in Kansas (and Oklahoma) and enjoy God’s beautiful creation and the wide open countryside.

    If God would call you to move to this area, visit the congregation, talk with your elder and view resources to assist on the HarvestCall Internet site (add new website address). The church especially has a need for Sunday School teachers to teach their youth. Please contact Bro. Cory Metzger (cmcustomworks@sbcglobal.net or 316.253.8507) if you are interested in moving.


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