WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The West Side Church of God is reinventing itself, doing a restart beginning March 12. It will completely close down for four to six months.
“During that time, we are going to be retooling every single thing that we do,” Pastor Forest Cornwell said. “We will change our music, we will change our structure, we will change anything that needs to be changed to be able to reach people in this community.”
Pastor Cornwell says their numbers have been on a downward slope due to people leaving and passing away.
“It’s mostly an older community,” Cornwell said. “We have some young people, but not many, and so we got to do something to make the church younger.”
This year, the church will celebrate 99 years.
“We have a great church, and there’s too many people back in the day that would just be rolling in their graves if we just let this church die,” member for 53 years Vick Broderick said. “I’m not having it.”
Pastor Cornwell says they also want to make sure they are paying attention to the community around them to reach more people with what they need.
“Anything that might be something that would be helpful to people… if AA or NA is something that the people in this community need, we’re definitely going to look at doing that, and maybe even put that together,” Pastor Cornwell said.
Restarting is also a step in the process of keeping their doors open long-term.
“We won’t reach anybody the way we’re going,” 5th-generation member Holly said.
The congregation has around 50 people.
“We want to have a vibrant church community here, not just for our current members, but even people who are in the neighborhood who would like to come and be a part of a church,” Pastor Cornwell said.
Holly’s great-great-grandparents went to the West Side Church of God in its early days. She says she knows the good things their church can do for others.
“There’s so much hate and trouble in the world,” Holly said. “People need somewhere to go. People need to know that people love them, that people care about them, that people want to see them happy, healthy, thriving. We need to share the love.”
She and other members are passionate and excited about what’s to come.
The last service will be on March 12, and the church will reopen with a new name in four to six months.