When First Christian Church in Glendale, AZ, closed and transformed their building into the Glendale Mission and Ministry Center, they had a natural choice to lead the new project.
Their associate minister Rev. Kega Nasios now serves as the program director at Glendale, which celebrated its first full year of operation in the fall of 2018.
For the congregation and surrounding community, Nasios’ leadership provided a smooth transition because she was already familiar with the facility, ongoing programs, and administrative needs. “In that process was a lot of prayer,” Nasios remembers, “looking for God to answer in different, unusual, and unexpected ways.”
Nasios’ transition, like Glendale’s, was supported every step of the way by the Arizona region.
Rev. Richie Sanchez, Arizona’s regional minister, says that nontraditional ministry like Nasios’ role at Glendale could serve as a model for others in the future. “How do we envision the Church of tomorrow, or today, if we recognize it as a Center, or by some other name? The creativity is still there, and ministry still happens there. We’re walking together to see what the Spirit moves us to do, and the leadership of ministry like this one could be supported by regions for people who feel called to do it.”
As Glendale’s program director, Nasios oversees a bustling community center with a variety of programs.
Three congregations use the center for worship, Bible studies, and group meetings. A member of one of those congregations serves as the maintenance coordinator, and often recruits their family members to care for the four-acre property, taking pride in caring for their worship facility.
Glendale’s largest program is a food ministry, started by First Christian started long ago. It continues to reach further, thanks to Nasios’ growing team of regular volunteers. In 2018, Glendale provided 8,800 sack lunches, 262 hygiene kits, and 676 emergency food boxes.
Nasios’ transition has certainly helped Glendale continue and expand its community efforts, and in many ways, that transition from congregational to community ministry was smooth for her, too.
“This work still requires a lot of pastoral care,” Nasios explains. “I spend time with folks who come to use our services, to say, ‘I’m here if you need anything,’ and ‘you’re welcome here.’ I’m not asking, ‘Would you like some pastoral care today?,’ but I do ask ‘how are you? Are you safe? Are you warm?’ Being a part of their lives gives people the confidence to talk about other things they might need.”
As Glendale moves into its second full year of operation, Nasios hopes that other congregations pursue similar community-focused models in the future. She suggests that every congregation can find ways to use their building to serve their communities in creative ways too.
“Find out what your community needs, use the gifts God has given you, and start there.”