Disciples News Service

Arizona region helps congregation find ‘resurrection story’ in new ministry center

As First Christian Church (FCC) in Glendale, AZ reflected on their congregation’s future, they weren’t alone.

With Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF), they discussed selling their building to fund a relocation to the West Valley area. After years of conversations, the congregation realized they no longer had the capacity needed for a feasible relocation. Instead, in May 2017, FCC voted to conclude their 103-year congregational ministry.

But that’s not the end of the story.

FCC left their property to the Arizona region, entrusting them to carry out their dreams of launching a new congregation in the West Valley and developing an outreach center at the Glendale location.

While the West Valley church is still in the works, the newly dedicated Glendale Mission and Ministry Center has come to fruition, nesting three congregations, a food pantry, early childhood education programming, and more.

This project is the product of a long-term partnership of DCEF and the region. Faithful members of FCC also made legacy gifts to support the creation of the Glendale center.

“Part of the reason this project is working as well as it is,” explains DCEF Vice President Bill Singer, “is the long relationship that Rick [Reisinger, DCEF president] and Denny [Williams, former Arizona regional minister] had, that deep well of trust after knowing each other for 40 years, and then for Denny to pass to Richie [Sanchez, interim regional minister], who brought a new level of energy, vigor, and vision.”

“I had the privilege to walk alongside the church in its final months,” Sanchez remembers, “as they lived the Gospel, knowing in death there is resurrection. We proclaim a story of resurrection, so this gift our region and DCEF can provide gives congregations confidence they can continue to see their facilities serve their communities.”

DCEF provided the needed expertise to facilitate this kind of transformation, Sanchez continues. “DCEF has walked with us all the way through. They never held us to sign an agreement quickly or focus only on the financial and legal pieces. It was all about what we could do together as a family that would make the most sense for this community.”

Moreover, this unique ministry won’t be the last of its kind. “There will be more,” suggests Reisinger. “[Glendale] is the first, so it’s really important for it to be done right, so that we can work with regions – in different ways, in different communities – to both keep ministries going and start new ministries.”

For Glendale, both parties agree this outreach center was the right way to both honor FCC’s legacy and support new Glendale ministries.

“This partnership felt like a way that the ministry [FCC] knew and loved could continue and be something new,” says Matthew Clark, Arizona’s regional ministry administrator.

The Glendale project “is very representative of the best about our Church,” Sanchez says. “This work gives congregations encouragement to come through to the other side…We can dream together about what the resurrection story might look like.”

To strengthen the work that regions do for Disciples across our Church, you’re invited to support the 2018 Christmas Special Day Offering, which will support your own regional ministry.