Hope Fellowship Church has a small congregation, but through fun local events it hopes to grow its membership and reach within the community.
The mission of the church is to help people love one another better, according to Pastor Anthony McKeown.
“I don’t want to force anything on anyone. I want to help them on their journey as they are open to that. I want to be a part of the community,” said McKeown.
The church is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, but McKeown said that his ultimate source is The Bible. “I’m not denominationally driven, I’m people driven, Bible driven, love driven,” he said.
The church is only two years old so it doesn’t have a love of money, time or resources, but McKeown and the other families plan to spread out and influence as they go.
McKeown has been a Christian for 30 years, he said, but he didn’t always believe.
“I came from extreme dysfunction. I should have been dead,” he said. He grew up in the suburbs around New York City, the son of a single mom. “I was hard core.” Then one day he met Vince, whose life was changed by the love of God. McKeown was the assistant pastor at a church in Gray for 10 years before being called to start this church.
With his history, McKeown is motivated to help families, especially single moms. “I now appreciate having a wife and two kids,” he said. The ministry of the church is to reach out and help others in the community. Through the church’s Single Parent Project, the community aids single parents, hardworking, good people who can’t get assistance, but need help, said Mc Keown. One woman was a teacher who they helped renovate the space over her garage so she can rent it and make her monthly bills easier to manage. “People are in survival mode, that’s not living. You can give a handout and significantly change a person’s life,” McKeown said. The church takes nominations for people who need this hand up.
“I don’t want to only help people who believe in God.” The church is relationship and community minded. McKeown wants his church members to have personal connection with God and God’s love and then love one another. He plans to have a win-win relationship with the community.
When looking for new parishioners, McKeown is looking for people who are on a journey or are not in a church. They might have spiritual questions and are searching. He’d like to have a conversation with them to see if Hope Fellowship Church is the right fit for them.
“I love diversity. I’d love it to be as diverse as possible to enrich one another and learn from one another.” The church is a place where people can come to get healthy, be honest and real in a safe environment.
The church will not be having a traditional service at its new location at The Little Meetinghouse until June 28th. Until then, they are inviting the community to come relax and hang out with them at scheduled Sunday events planned until August.
“It’s intimidating to go to a service and meet them,” so McKeown devised fun events featuring his one of a kind iced lattes. The first event is on Sunday, June 7th at 11:15 a.m. at Smitty’s. A free showing on Mercy Rule starring Kurt Cameron. After that it is a Yard sale with pancakes, burgers, dogs, lattes and desserts at The Little Meetinghouse from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 21st from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. is iced lattes and desserts at The Little Meetinghouse. On Saturday, June 27th , they will be at Summerfest. At each event there is the opportunity to win free Smitty’s tickets.