Sunday, September 22, 2013
McKinney church finds unity in an unlikely place — a hotel
Kingdom Faith Bible Church has been in flux, but the congregation's hope hasn't faded.
MCKINNEY Blacks, whites and Hispanics, seniors, teens and toddlers assemble Sunday mornings in a conference room at the Quality Inn off Central Expressway in McKinney. Their warm embraces signal a seasoned bond.
Their place of worship, though, tells of a three-year beginning that's really just begun. Kingdom Faith Bible Church has faith its open-door acceptance will one day lead to its own doors.
"Some churches experience a tremendous growth spurt," said Pastor DeWayne Owens, leader of the upstart church. "For most churches in America, it's an incremental growth process."
Kingdom Faith, which gained its nonprofit status and became official June 28, 2010, has been meeting at the hotel since September. About 20 families, mostly from McKinney, Celina, Melissa and Princeton, make up its congregation.
Many of them stuck together after their previous church folded for economic reasons, Owens said. For about a month, that meant meeting Sunday afternoons at First Baptist Church of McKinney. Then they moved to Reuben Johnson Elementary School for about two years.
Some stayed true to their cause — a vision strengthened in diversity — while others left. Owens, associate pastor at the previous church, took charge.
"It all works because we have a good leader," said Nicolas Cruz, KFBC's associate pastor. "Everything he does, he does with his heart, and the doors are always open. He has that much love for his congregation."
That love has been tempered with struggle and frustration at times. When Owens joined McKinney Shepherds, a group of area pastors who meet monthly for encouragement, he realized his church wasn't alone in its challenges to growth. Other church plants had withered in the time Kingdom Faith has lasted, he said.
"When you're a brand-new church and don't have a lot of financial resources, you really have to rely on word of mouth, social media and some particulars to help bring attention to the church," he said. "One benefit we have as a small church right now is it's intimate — it feels like a family."
Men's Bible study, children's church, a youth group and a women's ministry have expanded the church's reach outside Sunday. Owens' wife, Dolores, leads the children's ministry, which sometimes meets in the hotel lobby.
Quality Inn employees set up chairs for each Sunday service and allow the church to keep its sound and video equipment at the hotel. It beats doing it themselves, but the hotel isn't a permanent home, church members said.
"We are planting seeds," said Dolores, adding that the church maintains a building fund. "We see beyond this little space, but we thank the Lord we've been going three years. We're small, yet we're growing."
Church members prefer slow but sincere growth, Cruz said, through which new people are accepted and loved as necessary. Owens admits the church's makeup is rare — a black pastor of a racially mixed congregation — but sees it as the only way, whether it attracts or turns away potential new members.
"We just have a group of people who are truly color blind," he said. "As a body, that resonates with us."
Owens is the only paid staff member, and he supplements his pastoral duties with work as a motivational speaker and author. His focus in recent years has been on the church — on keeping together a family that some Sundays includes out-of-towners passing through the breakfast lounge, he said.
There's nothing fancy about a service, worship leaders equipped with microphones and clapping hands. Owens teaches more than he preaches to several rows of a mixed congregation, its personal and physical differences obvious.
They keep coming back to the Quality Inn, trusting in the color-blind vision.
"We just stick to the plan, and we have a loving, joyful church that just doesn't quit," Owens said. "We're here for the long haul."
Kingdom Faith Bible Church meets at 10:30 a.m. at the Quality Inn at 1300 N. Central Expressway in McKinney. For more information, visit kingdomfaithbiblechurch.org.
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