The church building in Cullison, vacant since the United Methodist Church closed its doors at 203 E. Central in 2011, is again a place of worship.
Hope Christian Fellowship organized and began holding services in early April, under the leadership of Walt Stockwell, pastor, and Jeannie Brown, associate pastor. Sunday worship is at 10 a.m. and there is a Bible study, actually pre-dating the opening of the church, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday evenings. A potluck dinner is held the first Sunday of each month, following worship. The next dinner is Sunday, June 1.
Stockwell, an ordained minister through World Christianship Ministries, established a pair of non-profit organizations during the last few years. Pass It Forward provides household goods, furnishings and appliances at no cost, and Bread of Life Community Kitchen provides food when the money runs out. Stockwell has also found ways to meet a variety of other needs that people expressed to him or that came to his attention.
A Bible study grew out of those ministries and the church is the next step. He already had a building — the former Methodist church was given to him a couple of years ago. A board of directors governs the church, which has been granted non-profit status. Derek Burkhart and Terry Williamson are deacons.
The focus is on people in recovery from a variety of addictions — drugs, alcohol, overeating, and those in relationship with addicts — who usually do not feel accepted by mainstream churches.
“We welcome them with open arms,” Stockwell said, and although worship is non-traditional, “we’re still very much a Bible-teaching church.”
It is a non-denominational church that identifies eight recovery principles based on the Beatitudes: Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor, happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted, happy are the meek, the pure in heart, the merciful and the peacemakers.
Hope is what is offered by the new church. It is also a desired outcome of Hope Center of Pratt, an organization with its own board of directors. The two are not related, although the Pass It Forward and Bread of Life ministries have been brought under the Hope Center umbrella.