Category Archives: Religion

New Covenant United Methodist Church purchases Delano buildings

WICHITA — New Covenant United Methodist Church is going to expand in Delano, but not until Al’s Old & New Book Store owner Anita Siemer finds new space for her store.

1710, foreground and 1712 and 1718 W. Douglas. (April 30, 2014)“The move is going to hinge on Anita at the bookstore,” says Cathy Holley, who is pastor of the decade-old church. “We’re going to wait it out until she finds the right place to be.”

The church has purchased the 5,000-square-foot building that’s home to Al’s and at 1710 and 1712 W. Douglas. It also bought the 3,000-square-foot storefront where it currently meets at 1718 W. Douglas.

“We’re doing this because we do want to stay connected in the Delano community,” Holley says. “The community is very important to us.”

Holley says the church needs a larger worship space and the ability to serve more members.

“Right now we just don’t have room to grow,” she says. “The configuration of the building we’re in now doesn’t allow us to do any renovations.”

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House of Grace ministry and resale shop to reopen downtown

WICHITA — House of Grace, a homeless ministry that sustains itself through a resale shop, is reopening almost one year after losing its previous space.

The ministry started in 2010 at 922 S. Topeka. Now, it will open downtown at 530 E. Central near Central and St. Francis.

“We’re right in the midst … of the downtown situation,” says treasurer Mary Ann Pistocco. “With very generous, generous help from Cao Properties, we are there.”

The building once was home to the Nifty Nut House, which is now at 537 N. St. Francis.

“That seems to ring a bell with everybody,” Pistocco says.

The ministry raises money by selling used clothing. The shop, which will have a preview opening on Feb. 14, will be open to the public.

Donations “are absolutely surprising and amazing,” Pistocco says.

She says that helps with another part of the group’s mission, which is to help children.

“My heart is for children,” Pistocco says. “I want families to be able to buy clean, affordable clothing to clothe their children.”

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New statue replaces ‘touchdown Jesus’ at Ascension Cemetery

The new statue of Jesus at Ascension Cemetery.

WICHITA — It doesn’t look like he’ll be scoring anymore touchdowns, but Jesus is back at Ascension Cemetery.

The cemetery at 7200 E. 45th St. North previously was home to a bronze statue of Jesus that was criticized for variety of reasons. Some thought it looked like the statue, which showed the arms of Jesus outstretched high in the air, was indicating a touchdown. Others thought the bronze clouds at his waist made it appear Jesus was wearing a tutu.

Now, there’s a new statue that’s earning more favorable remarks. There was a dedication of the statue on Saturday in conjunction with a Mass for All Souls Day. The statue wasn’t up yet, but it was available for visitors to see.

“They like it very, very much,” says Jim Sheldon, director of cemeteries for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.

“It looks much better than the touchdown Jesus,” is one of the comments that Sheldon heard.

The arms of the statue are outstretched, but not over his head as before.

“One person compared it to (Jesus) holding the weight of the world on his arms,” Sheldon says.

The former statue of Jesus at Ascension Cemetery.

The statue – the Ascending Christ by Oregon sculptor Rip Caswell – was placed today. There’s still some granite work that needs to be finished near its base.

Sheldon says the new statute was a gift from the late Jerome Gerber, a farmer who also was director of cemeteries from 1993 to 2007.

“He never got to see it.”

Sheldon says that the statue was based on a holy card that Gerber was devoted to.

Gerber’s brother, Bishop Emeritus Eugene Gerber, gave quite a bit of input and final approval of the sculpture, Sheldon says.

He says Jerome Gerber paid for the statue from the proceeds of his final wheat crop.

“For a farmer to donate his last crop, it’s kind of an … important thing to him.”


Islamic Society of Wichita rezones about five acres near mosque for development

UPDATED — The Islamic Society of Wichita has rezoned about five acres of land near its mosque at K-96 and Woodlawn.

The society sought general office zoning in preparation for development that could include an apartment complex, an office complex, a medical clinic and a financial institution.

“It’s not about making money,” says Muhammad Aamir Usmani, director of the society’s board of development. “It’s about supporting our existing services.”

Usmani, who manages the IT help desk at Wichita State University, says the society first started building on the almost 9-acre property in 2000.

“Initially, we had a gym,” he says.

It served as a multipurpose building. Then, the group added a mosque and a school followed by another building.

“Everything is attached to each other right now,” Usmani says.

The buildings look separate, though.

The latest building is a new school for pre-K through eighth grade. Fundraising is under way for a high school to be built on the second floor.

“Our goal is to start ninth (grade) in August,” Usmani says.

He says while there are tuition fees, the society still needs to raise money for education and outreach programs to the community.

“We need to keep doing that and possibly expand it.  . . .  There are a lot of programs that are supported by the community.”

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GracePoint Church signs additional lease at Westlink Shopping Center

WICHITA — GracePoint Church has signed a lease for more space at the Westlink Shopping Center at Central and Tyler

The church’s first lease was in 2009 to take the former Cinemas West space.

Now, it’s taking space for a student ministry where a photography business used to be.

“When we designed our original worship facility, we didn’t really design for a dedicated student ministry space,” executive pastor Terry Johnson says. “But as the ministry continued to grow, we saw a need for it.”

Some student groups have met in the church’s lobby.

“We knew that wasn’t going to suffice for the health of the ministry,” Johnson says.

When the photography space became available, he says, “We thought it might be a good opportunity to provide some room for them.”

Andy Boyd of Walter Morris Cos. handled the deal.

Following renovations, the new space should be ready the first week of February.

‘Til We Meet again obtains license to sell Vatican caskets, urns, grave markers and memorial products

WICHITA — If a business person would like to do business with the Vatican, is it as easy as calling up and asking?

Almost. At least that’s how it seemed to go for Nathan Smith and Traci Smith-Cone of ’Til We Meet Again, the casket store at Towne West Square that’s turning into a national chain.

The day after Thanksgiving, Smith says he and Smith-Cone signed a deal with the Vatican for Vatican-licensed merchandise.

“We are the only source for retail for all Vatican caskets, urns and memorial products throughout the United States,” Smith says. “It’s been something we’ve been working on for quite some time.”

Another company used to have the exclusive license, he says.

“That company that was doing that fell on some hard times and bad management and are no longer in existence,” Smith says.

When he heard that, he says he called the Vatican to inquire about the license.

“Through a lot of negotiations and talks, we thought it brought a lot of value to have that license from the Vatican,” Smith says. “It’s going to be a pretty big license for us.”

The company is in the process of working with the Vatican and several manufacturers on developing lines for caskets, urns, grave markers, jewelry and keepsakes.

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ICT S.O.S. has new home at Mead’s Corner

WICHITA — ICT S.O.S., which is a grassroots effort to fight human trafficking, is getting a new home.

The group has been located in founder Jennifer White’s house, but as of next week it will be in an office on the second floor of Mead’s Corner at Douglas and Emporia.

“They’ve been kind of looking at how they want to rework the coffee shop both from an operations standpoint and a ministry outreach standpoint,” White says.

First United Methodist Church owns Mead’s Corner.

White says the church wanted to take on a cause that the coffee shop could support.

“We’ve now formed a partnership with them … to kind of be that signature ministry for them,” she says. “I’m a huge fan of Mead’s anyway.”

White says the move is coming at a good time for ICT S.O.S., which she formed in March 2011.

“We’re kind of in this spot where we’re trying to figure out, OK, what’s the next step for us?”

She says she likes that Mead’s is centrally located.

“It’s a place that people come and work and have Bible studies and book clubs, so it makes sense for us to be someplace we can be more visible and more connected to the community.”

Without a public space, White says, “We’re not as accessible to people as we can be if we have an actual location.” She adds, “This will allow us to kind of expand as well.”

In addition to the office, there’s a conference room on the second floor, or the group could meet downstairs in the coffee shop.

White admits it’s not only the space that has her excited. There’s a side benefit to locating there, too.

“What’s better than having a work space that has amazing coffee downstairs?”

You don’t say

“It’s not our total desire, but you know, you gotta do what you gotta do.”

– Rev. Fred Hayes, whose New Life Church in Delano is selling contents of the church Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 to raise money to stay in its building at 411 S. Martinson

New Life Church attempts to restore Trinity Methodist Church, may need to move

WICHITA — In 2010, a group of developers announced plans to convert the historic Trinity Methodist Church in Delano into apartments.

That never happened.

New Life Church has been meeting at the building, which is at 411 S. Martinson, and pastor Fred Hayes wants to make sure it remains a church.

“We’ve been striving to refurbish and bring it back to its former glory,” Hayes says. “We’ve been laboring trying to get it back up to par.”

Hayes says if his church can’t make it there, the building could become something else. He calls it “a very real reality.”

He says the apartments didn’t happen because the developers couldn’t get the historic designation they needed for tax credits to rehabilitate the building.

“That’s why they didn’t pursue it.”

The building was built in 1906 and at one time was one of the biggest churches in the city. Until recently, its address was 1409 W. Maple, but that changed due to some additions to the building.

Hayes says there are some immediate concerns with the property, such as fixing the heating and roof.

“It’s just a lot of work that needs to be done,” he says.

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Christ the Savior Academy to open in fall at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral

UPDATED — It was 17 years ago that St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral broke ground on an educational wing just west of 13th and Rock Road, but the timing wasn’t right to start a school.

It is now.

Christ the Savior Academy will open in the fall for the new school year.

“Now, everything has come together,” says Jennifer Sebits, president of the board. “This is a project of the entire Orthodox community in Wichita.”

That includes St. George, St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Christian Church and St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church.

“We believe that it’s important to educate the whole child – so mind, body and soul,” Sebits says. “We think that children are spiritual beings and their soul needs to be nurtured as well.”

Sebits says Christ the Savior will offer a classical education, which emphasizes education in three parts.

Initially, there’s a grammar stage in which there’s a lot of memorization.

Next is a logic stage where children begin to learn and ask questions about a lot of the facts that they’ve earlier memorized.

Finally, there’s a rhetoric stage where children put what they’ve learned into spoken and written form.

Students will learn Greek and Latin starting in first grade. Sebits says classical schooling also means students often study from original sources instead of text books.

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