Faithful Witness in Kansas City

from the PC(USA)

116 years ago, a Sunday school was started on the outskirts of Kansas City, KS to reach children of immigrants in the growing stockyards area. The Sunday school became the Grandview Park Presbyterian Church which grew to 800 members in the early 1960's.

The church declined as members moved south to new suburbs, leaving a struggling church in a low-income urban center. In the 1970's Rev. Tom Williams saw opportunity for a ministry of presence and "kicked the doors open" to community ministry with a day camp, a learning center and after-school tutoring.

In the 90's the area found new vitality as a major Hispanic center in Kansas City. Led by Rev. Rick Behrens, the church is building on its heritage, ministering to Hispanic children and youth. Their week-end and mid-week programs include arts and crafts, music, tutoring, computer labs, and adult tutoring. A local foundation grant funds a summer program.

In 2003 Grandview Park started a bi-lingual worship service. Randy Lopez, a Catholic youth in the outreach program was interpreter. In 2004 the ministry became fully bi-lingual with the arrival of Rev. Alfonso Tot, a minister in the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala who lives near-by.

And the youth? Randy Lopez is working on a degree in nursing and training as a parish nurse, using these skills at Grandview Park. Jennifer Mallinson, also from the neighborhood, graduated from college in three years with a commitment to teach in the urban district. While in college she returned to Grandview Park each week-end and mid-week to give leadership to the children and youth program. Having completed her first year of teaching, she is director of the 2005 summer program and a deacon at Grandview Park.

In a typical week, the 60-member congregation averages 67 in worship (about equal Anglo and Hispanic) and 250 in Christian education programs.

—Douglas Wilson
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Posted in Invitation.

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