By LESLIE COLLINS
October 24, 2012
Eastminster Presbyterian Church is receiving a facelift in more ways than one.
The Presbyterian congregation has sold the church, 217 Benton Blvd., to Iglesia Cristian Palabra Viva, an Hispanic church formerly located in North Kansas City.
“We thought about the possibly of just opening our eyes and exploring all the possibilities beyond the Northland. That’s how we became connected with some people here in the Northeast,” said Palabra Viva Pastor Luis Mendoza.
For 80 years, the Palabra Viva church used space within the First Baptist Church of North Kansas City, but decided it was time for the church to “spread our wings,” Mendoza said.
“God moved our hearts and minds and desire to be ministering here (in Northeast),” he said. “There’s a lot of Hispanics here and so many different people groups around our place.”
Not only will the former Presbyterian church house Palabra Viva, it will also host two other churches: Eastminster Presbyterian Church and Living Faith.
Mendoza said the building will now serve as a “multi-ethnic church planting center.”
One of the goals is to collaborate with other churches to develop ministerial activities, he said.
Palabra Viva held its first Sunday morning service at 217 Benton Blvd. on Oct. 7.
Currently, Palabra Viva is working to build relationships with area residents, learning about their cultures and specific needs. Palabra Viva doesn’t want to duplicate services already being offered and wants to fill the gap of unmet needs, Mendoza said.
“We’re developing strategies to reach them (diverse ethnic groups) in a more meaningful and productive way,” he said.
One of the strategies of reaching out is to hold the church service in one’s own “heart language,” he said.
“Every person has a heart language,” he said.
That language is the language a person learned growing up and one that he or she immediately connects to, he explained. Mendoza said his wife is fluent in Spanish, but she grew up learning English.
“There are some songs she can sing in Spanish without having any kind of difficulties, but if she sings the same songs in English, it will affect her emotionally because English is her heart language… If you really want to connect to God, it’s my humble opinion that a person should have the possibility of worshipping God in the language that they learned when they were babies.”
Palabra Viva offers its church services in Spanish, he said.
Built in 1907, the building cost $40,000 to complete and features approximately 16,000 square feet of usable space on three floors. The building is also part of the Scarritt Point South National and Local Register Historic District.
Over the years, the building faced abuse when a leaky roof caused water damage inside the building. The roof is now fixed, but Palabra Viva is continuing to repair the ceiling, floors and walls inside. All of the walls in the sanctuary are now repaired and are sporting a fresh coat of paint, he said.
Despite the repairs ahead, Mendoza said they chose the right location.
“I believe location wise, we couldn’t be in a better place,” he said. “We’re pretty much in the heart of where the different people groups are.
“This is a hard place to minister to; we are aware of that. But, we really believe this is where God wants us to be right now, and he’s going to be with us.”
Pastor Luis Mendoza
Living Faith: – 9 a.m.
Eastminster Presbyterian: – 10:30 a.m.
Iglesia Cristian Palabra Viva: – Noon
For more information on how to become involved, call (816) 805-7978.