One Church Saving Money by Sharing Space
By Lindsay Peyton
At first glance, Parkwood and Emanuel UMC seem to have little in common. Soon, however, the congregations will be sharing something big – their home and worship space. By working together, both congregations are already finding what they were looking for.
Parkwood UMC has struggled to fill its pews for a while, Pastor Royce Scott said. He has led the church for the past 15 years.
When Scott first arrived, his flock numbered about 30. He built it up to more 70 or 80. “I reenergized the church that was already there,” he said.
By reaching out to inactive members and friends and family of the congregation, he was able to increase attendance.
But with demographics in the neighborhood changing from Anglo to primarily Hispanic, Scott explained that it has been hard to make the impact he intended when he first set out as a pastor.
Scott explained that around two-thirds of the area’s population speaks Spanish but all of the church’s services were in English. He knew to truly make a difference, a more bilingual congregation would have to develop.
“I’ve been pushing for the idea for the past 10 years,” he said.
Then, he met the Rev. Ruben Olivares, the head of Emanuel UMC who was looking for a new place for his congregation to worship with a higher number of Hispanic speakers.
“Our building is a fairly good size, but we’re so small,” he said. “Our footprint in the building is small.”
Parkwood has its Sunday services from 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. Emanuel starts at 12:30 p.m. and will offer Sunday school classes when Parkwood is in session.
Parkwood can hosts its fellowship gatherings when services begin for Emanuel. “We’re usually done by 2 p.m.,” Scott said.
Fellowship at Emanuel usually starts at 2 p.m. “There’s very little in their schedule that conflicts with ours,” Royce said.
The two churches are busy preparing to share the space and will start co-existing the first Sunday in July.
Already, Emanuel has updated the sound system and technology for sermons. That’s something Parkwood could not have afforded on its own.
The congregations are also planning to host Vacation Bible School together and will offer bilingual youth groups.
Because Emanuel is also a United Methodist church, the congregation does not have to rent the space. And since Scott is also a lawyer, he was able to draft the covenant himself.
“When they’re ready to incorporate, I can help them with their papers,” he said. “That’s a resource I’m glad to provide.”
Olivares said coming together was serendipitous for both congregations. “God is in control,” he said. “He joined us to work together.”
The pastor looks forward to seeing his congregation prosper in its new home. “The most important thing we’re gaining is the freedom to do ministry, to do the work for the community,” he said. “It’s a new place – and a new life for us too.”
There will be a new energy in the pews and the hallways at Parkwood, too. “It’s a mission thing – it’s all about building a community for Christ,” Scott said.