If your concept of church is little more than four walls, for three hours, and you’re looking for something more, you might want to check out Heart of Christ Church, a relatively new Wichita-area church, with a diverse membership and a unique approach to fellowship.
Heart of Christ livens things up. Under the leadership of Senior Pastor Ronda Kingwood, members enjoy Praise on the Lawn, an outside service; prayer walks where members pray with and for residents in the community surrounding the church; and every third Saturday, members reach out to clothe and feed the homeless around Wichita. They serve a community breakfast on Sundays (which will return Oct. 6 after renovations) and offer a clothes closet/food pantry.
Of course, their regular service is casual, no suit and tie required, with this congregation enjoying an “unchurched” approach to service.
This Sunday, Sept.15, Heart of Christ members are taking their Sunday morning worship service out of the church to Schweiter Park at Hillside and Lincoln. It will be a family affair, and the community is invited to join them at 11 a.m. for praise, worship, food and fellowship.
Schweiter Park is just blocks from the south side church, which is located at 856 S. Green, that’s the corner of Lincoln and Green.
Before Heart of Christ, the church was most recently the Southeast Campus of Saint Mark United Methodist Church and Kingwood served as the SE campus’ lead pastor. Heart of Christ officially separated from Saint Mark in June 2019, even though they held their first official service as an independent church on May 19.
Kingwood says the separation was beneficial for both churches, with both sites needing to grow and develop in their own way.
Taking on two church campuses was a big financial risk and it finally came to a point where a decision had to be made to either close the campus or to separate. Members were given the opportunity to vote and the latter ruled.
Church members were also involved in naming the church. More than 100 names were submitted, but only three were given to the congregation and put to vote by a selected panel of nine members: the options were Love Fellowship, New Vision and Heart of Christ. To help in the name selection, Pastor Kingwood found a tagline that she thought would fit for them all, “Christ Centered and Community Focused,” the Heart of Christ name was chosen and happened to be the perfect fit.
Heart of Christ is a young church, with the average age of its members range from 25 to 50 years old. In an effort to reach and maintain members, especially young members, during a time when church participation is declining, Kingwood says Heart of Christ is adjusting.
“The world is changing, and the church has to get creative in how we bring Jesus to people,” said Kingwood. “We have to stay with the foundation, but we have to update our approach.”
The church’s mission speaks to this need for some change in the church. Their mission is simple: “to reach people, and meet their needs spiritually and physically.”
Kingwood and her HOC team have the order right. To meet their needs, you first have to reach them.
The community is always welcome at Heart of Christ. The weekend of Oct. 4 - 6, HOC will officially celebrate the church’s launch.
On Fri., Oct. 4, they will have a night of worship featuring Rev. Dr. Cynthia Wilson, a renowned recording artist and preacher, other local talent “The Collective,” and the HOC Praise Team. On Sun., Oct. 6, they will have a spirit-filled worship celebration as Rev. Dr. Cynthia Wilson brings the word with a reception immediately following.