Pastor Fred Hayes Jr. and the members of New Life Church are reaching out to the community at their new church home.

Pastor Fred Hayes Jr. and the members of New Life Church made a big step up and out, earlier this month when they relocated from their old church home to their new 50,000 sq. ft. church at 1156 N. Oliver, Wichita.

It was definitely a step up in size. The church had been worshipping at 5221 E. Elm, a nice-sized church that a lot of congregations would be proud to call home. But this move is also a step “out” for New Life, and by out, we mean out into the community, a direction the church is already aggressively embracing at their new location.

In fact, the new church signage – the first outward change they’ve made – proudly proclaims the church’s new outward mission. The sign proclaims the facility is more than just New Life Church. The sign reads, “New Life Church and (in big capital letters) OUTREACH CENTER.”

New Life had their grand opening at the new location on Sept. 22, but months before that, they were already using the center for community outreach.

They were in negotiations to purchase the building when Doug Lockett, operator of the Underground Café – a free feeding program that had been operating in the building for six years – passed away unexpectedly in June. Hayes and his members immediately stepped in and took over the charitable feeding program. Since June, they’ve been providing free dinner to the community on Wednesdays. The goal is to expand the program to daily.

While a lot of churches in the community are serving lunches, New Life is the only one serving dinner.

“Everyone can’t make it to the Lord’s Diner,” says Hayes, about the need for a daily feeding program in the community.

On Wednesday evenings, they also invite children from the community, to join youth from the church, for an open gym session from 6 to 8 p.m.

“We give them a short lesson, feed them, and let them go back to the gym until 8 p.m.

New Life also operates a clothing ministry. It’s also open on Wednesday evenings.

Hayes also wants to bring youth basketball back to the community.

The church gym used to be the home for a youth basketball league, but now, all of the leagues have moved to newer league facilities in far northeast Wichita. A lot of parents don’t have the transportation to get their children to those facilities or the money needed to participate.

Hayes says they plans to launch a community-based basketball league this fall.

Another goal for the outreach center is to operate a daycare facility in a portion of the three-story classroom wing of the church.

There were a number of businesses operating in that part of the building prior to New Life’s acquisition. A few of them have remained, including the Youth Educational Empowerment Program and Teen View Magazine, both operated by Marquis Murphy.

A new home school robotics program is also using some of the space.

Two other churches are using the facility including the previous church tenant, The Bridge Church, who will relocate once the renovations at their new location are complete.

Pastor Hayes invites the community to stop by and participate in any of New Life’s programs, including their regular Sunday worship service at 11 a.m.

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