Wichita Church Completes Housing Project for Low-Income Seniors

 In All Church of God, Central, CHOG, Loving and Serving

By Carl Stagner

It’s a common scenario among churches in the United States and Canada: land stretches far and wide—and often nearly empty—while the footprint of the worship facility only takes up a portion of the property. Occasionally a church will dream about what could be—another softball field, a community garden, or a new multipurpose center might be among the possibilities. But for Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas, stewarding expansive acreage meant thinking outside the box and creating a sustainable solution to a real need felt among their own neighbors.

On May 13, Central Community Church was thrilled to ceremoniously announce the completion of a forty-eight-unit, low-income senior housing complex on its sprawling campus. Divided into twelve apartment structures called quadplexes, the subdivision also includes a clubhouse for the neighbors to enjoy. In a ribbon-cutting event, local and regional officials joined Pastor Bob Beckler and staff to officially mark the completion of the construction project, which began in the summer of 2020. It was nearly ten years ago, however, that the vision began to develop in the hearts and minds of the leadership of the Church of God congregation on the west side of Wichita.

“The senior housing development came out of our desire to make the campus of Central Community Church a space for true community,” Pastor Bob explains. “In the more than thirty years we have called this property home, a significant portion of the land has not yet been developed. Starting almost a decade ago, we began seeking God’s guidance for how to best steward the resources he entrusted to us, and how we could use these resources to bless others. During that process, we realized a serious need in our community was a lack of affordable, high-quality housing for low-income seniors.”

Bob Beckler speaks at the ceremony.

Stewarding their property the way they did required no reinventing of the wheel. The church itself didn’t have to manage the construction, arrange for maintenance and tenant relations, or even raise the money. New and existing partnerships made it all possible, but the church had to step out in faith as the Lord led.

“Our staff and congregation were impacted very little during the development process,” Pastor Bob notes. “The project was funded by tax credits from the State of Kansas Housing Resources Corporation and a grant from the Federal Housing Trust Fund. The properties are currently managed by an organization called Mennonite Housing, which takes care of the daily operations, such as maintenance and rental contracts with the tenants. As a church, our biggest investment is providing the land and continuing to build meaningful relationships with our new neighbors.”

Of course, there’s a scriptural precedent—even a mandate—to take care of the seniors, and especially the widows, among us. Pastor Bob Beckler and Central Community Church recognize this and embrace the opportunity it presents, not just to care for those in need, but also to spread the gospel.

“We want the residents to see and feel the love of Jesus,” Bob explains. “We’ve welcomed them onto our property, and now we are focusing on building a relationship with them—spending time with them, getting to know them, and making sure they feel seen, cared for, and loved. A few weeks ago, our high school students delivered homemade cookies door-to-door, and in July our staff is hosting a watermelon feed for the residents. Only a small handful of the residents are members of our church, so we have an incredible opportunity to share the love of Jesus with people who may have otherwise been alone or felt forgotten. The goal isn’t to get them into our church, but to minister to each person in a meaningful way so they will experience hope and a saving relationship with Jesus. If they decide to attend Central Community on a Sunday morning, that’s just the cherry on top!”

The mayor of Wichita was present for the special dedication of the new housing complex, as well as U.S. Representative Ron Estes and other members of the city council, not to mention local media. A television news station covered the story, including an interview with Pastor Bob. Watch the coverage here.

Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

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