Metro Church Celebrates Centennial

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One of the oldest Methodist churches in Kansas City marked its centennial on Sunday. The Grand Avenue Temple has served a diverse group of people for 100 years.

Parishioners say it's a different kind of church that's making a difference. When the church was rebuilt n 1912, it's current pastor says it was the mother church of the metro's Methodist churches. Ornamental plasterwork, stained glass window and a majestic organ are some of the things that make the church unique. It's also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the stained glass is bowed and the ceilings need renovation. Despite that, the church is working to repair the lives of its members, mostly homeless men and women who the pastor affectionately call sojourners.

"Over the last 16 years our mission has been primarily to the homeless because they were all who were downtown," said Rev. Dr. Ron Brooks. "Nobody else lived down here and they were on our doorstep. One day a group of them came in and helped themselves to a fellowship meal that was being served by the six people who were there for church, it was almost dead."

Reverend Ron Brooks says most Sundays the church is packed with 200 parishioners mostly sojourners. While they gave the church a new life, it's the church that's helping lead them to better lives.

"I started staying here to come out of the elements to do my homework from college and I started to hear Pastor Ron speak and realized he was a very compassionate person," said church member Tyrone Estes. "Then I realized my goodness they've got a medical clinic here!"

They also have an eye clinic that's set up once a month right in the sanctuary.

"The church has I think what God intended and that is all of his people to come together to help each other and to help those who have less," said Rev. Emanuel Cleaver II. "This church is doing ministry."

The church also has a food pantry and provides meals on the weekends but many of the members say it's the love and acceptance that fills them up.

"It's like Cheers, everybody knows everybody and you feel more at home,more like a family," said sojourner Rolland Smith.

For more information about the church go to http://grandavenuetempleumc.org.

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