In the summer of 2015, Pastor John Ames led a group of 5 people, who came together in the West End of Providence, Rhode Island to start the work of planting a church. After a summer of outreach, they launched a Sunday service with about 30 people in attendance and a church was born. West End Community Church, as they are called, is a growing family of faith that reflects the neighborhood and is currently meeting in a community center located between an elementary school and a middle school.
A little more about their context; even though this region is credited for birthing the Baptist movement in the United States, the northeast has become very post-Christian. Recent surveys show that only 10 percent of the population is considered to have some Christian affiliation. Rhode Island is no different. Still, West End Community Church is finding responsiveness to the Gospel in a community where many people of all ages and from several different ethnicities and cultures have never had a chance to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
One of the beautiful elements to the West End is its diversity. At present, 60 percent of the population of the neighborhood is Latino, 20 percent Asian, 14 percent African-American/Haitian/African and 5 percent Caucasian. Pastor Ames, himself, grew up on the mission field and therefore celebrates his multi-cultural community as feeling a lot like home. “It is what heaven will be like,” he often says.
Since its inception, West End Community Church has been seeking to find new and exciting ways to engage and strengthen its community for the glory of God. One way they are trying to do so is through the purchase of a multi-unit residential house in the neighborhood. Doing so allows the church to expand its community-based ministry. The Daniel House, as it is called, will be home to a two-year live-in discipleship training program for young adults in the West End (ages 18-26), as well as being a central space in the community for outreach events (i.e. block parties, backyard BBQs, etc…).
The Daniel House is only one program to come out of the church’s new community strengthening initiative called Real Development, which aims to see spiritual and physical renewal take place in the West End. Along with the Daniel House, West End Community Church and Real Development are offering a mentoring program called Vision4, an employment assistance program called JumpStart, a community conversations program called SPACES; a youth drop-in center called The Connect Café and a sports outreach program called Real Sports.
The purchase of this house was financed with the support of the Converge Cornerstone Fund. We are excited about our partnership with Pastor Ames and West End Community Church and cannot wait to see what God does in the years to come through their church and through The Daniel House.
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