Disciples News Service

Kentucky congregation shares resources

From the Owensboro (KY) Messenger-Inquirer Nov. 15, 2016 edition
By Steve Vied

$50 K will be given annually through application, selection process

On Sunday, three years and eight months after First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at 700 J.R. Miller Blvd. lost its building to fire, members will return to a beautiful, cross-shaped church, built for about $7 million by Hartz Contracting.

But before what figures to be a celebratory worship service in the 29,700-square-foot facility, the church made a point to put the focus on its ministry outside the walls of its gleaming new building.

On Monday, Malcom Bryant, a First Christian Church member and chair of its outreach committee, announce the creation of the Legacy Fund, with will provide annual cash gifts to the community via an endowment fund.

The Legacy Fund will distribute $50,000 a year to individuals, groups and organizations over and above the church’s traditional charitable giving using an application and selection process, Bryant said. The giving may increase in subsequent years, he said.

“Although we are extremely excited about opening our new church building to the community, First Christian Church has always been much more than a building,” said Bryant, reading from a news release Monday morning in the 240-seat sanctuary, with a trio of tall stained glass windows behind him. “We are about serving others, and we have continued that mission proudly without a permanent home. Now we want to make that mission even larger as we return home. Today we announce a new appreciation for our faith journey and how we want to extend God’s love even further to the world.”

Bryant said the church sat aside some of its insurance settlement of about $7.8 million and combined it with other donated funds to create the Legacy Fund endowment. In the fund’s first year, money will be distributed within the community close to the church, including Third Baptist Church for its youth ministry program and the soup kitchen program at Zion United Church of Christ.

Third Baptist, which shared its building with First Christian Church for most of the time since the fire, and Zion United Church of Christ are both practically within a stone’s throw of First Christian.

“We are open to all needs both individual and organizations that help to cultivate the human spirit and give a lift to our friends today and those we look forward to getting to know tomorrow,” Bryant said.

Thirteen grants totaling about $35,000 have already been approved and four or five more grants will soon be approved soon, Bryant said. The list of recipients will be revealed during the Nov. 27 worship service, Bryant said.

“We walked the neighborhood, we reached out to them and we found needs we didn’t know were out there,” Bryant said. “This is a whole new layer of giving for everyone who needs help outside the church. The real effort is outside these walls.”

The Rev. Cheryl Russell, associate minister, and the Rev. Molly Smothers, interim senior minister, were present for Monday’s announcement.

The former First Christian Church was destroyed by fire after lightning struck its steeple in the early morning hours of March 18, 2013, leaving about $12 million in damage. A team of about 15 church members worked with Nashville’s EOA Architects on the design of the new church, which sits diagonally on the lot.

Steve Vied, 270-691-7297, svied@messenger-inquirer.com