In Wichita since late August and, officially installed last Sunday, Brother Barry Gainey is excited about what lies ahead for his family, his church and the Wichita community. Gainey, 55, is the new senior pastor at Chisholm Trail Church of Christ, replacing the congregation’s longtime minister Clifford Easley.
He knows he has big footprints to fill, but he’s certain this assignment is God’s will.
It’s been a long and winding path to Wichita for Gainey, who was introduced to the ministry at 12 years old, when he was mentored by an older pastor at his home church in Rochester, NY. By 18, he’d decided the ministry was his life call, and he was actively sharing the Gospel at churches near his home.
Even though he was already preaching, he felt the need to supplement his training to date with more formal training and headed off to Southwestern Christian College, a predominately Black school in Terrell, TX founded and sponsored by the Church of Christ.
At Southwestern College, he met his lifetime mate, Kim Wilbon, a Kansas City, MO native. After he graduated in 1987, the couple married in 1990. They received their first full-time ministry position in 1991 in Emporia, VA. (He says “they” because he sees Kim a part of his ministry)
Emporia is a small predominately Black community west of Richmond, VA. Dill Ave. COC in Richmond helped seed (sponsor) the church and paid Gainey’s salary while he grew the church. By the time he left in 1996, both Gainey and the church had grown. The church had grown enough to be self-sustaining, But Gainey says, he was also blessed to grow and mature in the ministry.
He spent seven years leading a church in Rockledge, FL before taking on a position as minister of the Hampton Ave. Church of Christ in Milwaukee, WI in 2003. He spent 13 years pastoring that inner city church, and continued to grow in his ministry and personally. One program he’s particularly proud of was the implementation of the first training and ordination process for elders and deacons in the church’s 40 year history.
“According to the Bible, there are qualifications that must be met to be deacons and elders in the church,” says Gainey, who referenced 1Timonty 3:1-12.
While a lot of churches choose deacons differently, Gainey says his program was designed to “train men to serve in leadership roles, as well as to give them a better understanding of the scripture and God’s will for their life.”
In Wichita just two months, Gainey’s loving the smaller town feeling.
“As I get older, I appreciate a slower step and a quieter place,” he says. In addition, the father of three likes Wichita as a place to raise a family. He has three children; Daria, 25, is a student at Bryant and Stratton College in Rochester, NY. His two younger children – Melanie,16, and Barry, 14 – are students at Wichita Heights.
During his years in Milwaukee, Gainey watched the city change.
“I became concerned about the safety and welfare of my family,” I’m raising an African-American male, and it appears they are an endangered species.”
Wichita also works for the minister and his family because it gets his wife closer to her mother, who still lives in Kansas City. His goal is to move his mother-in-law, and his mother – she still lives in Rochester – to Wichita.
“They made sacrifices for us as parents and, we feel it’s our responsibilities to take care of them,” says Gainey.
In Milwaukee he took his ministry outside the church, partially through a weekly radio show. He’d like to do similarly here but, it’s just one of several goals he has for strengthening and building Chisholm Trail.
The church currently has a food ministry, a nursing home ministry and a prison ministry. He also points to the Metropolitan Chorus, the church’s successful acapella choir, as a potential way to reach out into the community.
“I’d like to get them out there more representing the church and ministering to the community,” he says.
To address the universal problem churches are having attracting members, Gainey proposes going to the people.
“Go unto the world and preach the Gospel, the Bible says. The church must try different ways to reach people. Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, we have to get the word out.”
“We can change the method, but we can’t change the message. The Bible is never out of style. It’s as up to date as the morning newspaper. What we have to do is make it applicable to the life of people and place it so they can see it.”
More than just talk, he says the church must be about the walk.
“As the old saying goes, ‘people would rather see a sermon that hear one.’ In other words, show me in your life what God has done for you. If I can see how God has impacted your life, I know there’s hope for me.”
Gainey invites the community, churched and unchurched, to come visit Chisholm Trail.
“You’ll be so glad you did.”