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MNU students help revive Drexel church

By Christian Stewart
Dec 14, 2016

The church was struggling financially and the previous pastor had just retired. With no one to lead the congregation, the church asked MNU for help.

According to current pastor and MNU student Justin Barnes, the outreach began following a distress call to MNU from Drexel.

Barnes said that MNU professors Dr. Randy Cloud and Dr. Donald Dunn assembled a team consisting of volunteer ministry students to begin to serve the church in a pastoral capacity during the beginning of his freshman year in 2014.

The team, headed by Dunn, began by preaching on Sundays. Barnes said that the original group was pretty large and served in rotations, including current students Div Tosinglo and Michael Mendoza.

Dr. Donald Dunn (left) and Justin Barnes (right) hang up a sign preparing for church at Drexel Church of the Nazarene. Dunn is one of Barnes's mentors and is helping him adjust to being the full-time pastor at Drexel. Photo by Mariah McCommon.Dr. Donald Dunn (left) and Justin Barnes (right) hang up a sign preparing for church at Drexel Church of the Nazarene. Dunn is one of Barnes's mentors and is helping him adjust to being the full-time pastor at Drexel. Photo by Mariah McCommon.

Tosinglo said that MNU tried something different with Drexel. Rather than supplying temporary aid, MNU set up a symbiotic relationship with the church. Drexel got the pastoral assistance they needed and the ministry students got an opportunity to practice their vocation.

However, another anticipated complication arose: winter break.

“Winter break came, students were going home,” Barnes said. “[We didn’t know] who was going to stay. Since I lived locally in Olathe, I quickly volunteered. During that winter break, I was more or less ‘The Guy.’”

The task of preaching each Sunday is currently being rotated between three MNU students: Barnes, Daniel Marvin and Jacob Mills, Barnes said.

Mills, the current worship leader of the church, found himself filling the position when MNU student Michael Mendoza stepped down. Mills said he felt called to the position primarily because he wanted to practice leading a congregation and because he realized that Drexel was a church in need of his help.

“Financially, it’s completely unstable,” Mills said. “It’s officially a church in crisis.”

Tithes come in on a regular basis, but the church’s primary source of income is renting out the parsonage for events. Mills said that the income is about $700 a month, but that it’s just barely enough.

Mills said that volunteers are needed, but the church hasn’t had a lot of luck finding them. He also said that the current students will eventually graduate and Drexel will need new leaders when the time comes to pass on the torch.

“Not only do we need new ministers, we need a new worship leader,” Mills said.

Dunn said that as Barnes is the official lead pastor and that all of the decisions for where to look for worship leaders and volunteers next will fall onto Barnes’s shoulders. However, in brief conversation, Dunn and Barnes came to the conclusion that they will probably remain in a partnership at least for now.

“I would imagine that we probably would still continually go to the freshman intro to ministry class before students in the ministry department get locked into their internships,” Dunn said.

Barnes said that it is his desire to pull the church away from being dependent on MNU. After personally sacrificing huge amounts of time for the church, he said he wants to see the organization eventually grow to find its own identity while extending the outreach further into the community.


Christian Stewart

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Christian Stewart is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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