Wickline Church-Douglas Branch focuses mission on serving the community
By Jeff Harrison
A new type of church is sprouting in Midwest City.
Wickline United Methodist Church is launching a new mission-oriented branch that aims to help the community through partnerships and service. Wickline Church –Douglas Branch is located in the former Douglas Boulevard United Methodist Church.
Pastor David Hanigar says the new model calls on people to live out Christian teachings through actions. The church has started this mission by providing food to the hungry, helping schools and hosting community events.
“We want to be known for what we do outside of the church walls,” Hanigar said.
Hanigar says the new model is in response to a cultural shift away from Christianity and organized religion. He believes the shift to a “post Christian culture” has led to increased societal problems.
“Christianity used to be the norm and now a lot of people don’t even talk about Jesus,” he said. “What they know about religion is what they hear and see on TV. And we’re seeing a rise in families breaking down and a rise in depression.”
With fewer people turning to religion, Hanigar believes churches must reach out to them in new ways.
“We need to get outside of the walls of the building and show people love that is supernatural,” Hanigar said.
To achieve that goal, the Douglas Branch will focus on three main objectives: creating a missional community, building a diverse congregation and a revenue-based ministry.
The church’s goal of creating a missional community includes following Jesus’ example and “radically caring” for one another.
“We will not be happy until there is no more drugs trafficking, until there is no more sex trafficking, until people with no hope find hope, until people hungry have food, and until people suffering from racial or economical injustice can rise above that,” Hanigar said.
The second objective is to create a diverse congregation. Hanigar says they have made progress on this goal so far with their launch team, which includes doctors, homeless people and minorities.
“Martin Luther King said that the most segregated hour is 11 a.m. on Sunday,” Hanigar said. “He is long gone, but that is still a reality. And we’re seeing race riots and racial injustices. So we want to intentionally be as diverse as possible.”
The third objective includes developing a model to fund church ministries without placing a financial burden on parishioners. Hanigar said many churches, including Douglas Boulevard United Methodist, are struggling financially as membership declined. He said they are still developing a plan, but hope to use the building as a source of revenue by hosting events.
“We’re still trying to think through some things and find creative ways for the church to make money,” he said.
The church started about a year ago, just a few months after Douglas Boulevard Methodist Church closed. The Methodist congregation considered selling the property, but Haniger, who had previously served as youth minister at Wickline Church – Mid-America Boulevard, and others convinced church leaders to try the new model.
The Douglas Branch is still in the developmental stages, Hanigar said. They have started some of the outreach ministries, but are still developing partnerships to further those efforts. They are also remodeling parts of the church building, which includes transforming the sanctuary into a multipurpose space.
“We are going to worship here but it’s not the only purpose,” he said. “We opened it up so the community can use it for town hall meetings, concerts, weddings and whatever things we can concoct that facilitate community.”
The church will host the public this Saturday for a Battle of the Bands. The event starts at 6 p.m. and includes free foods and entertainment.
Hanigar said they are always looking for new members and community partners who can help turn their vision into a reality.
“We’re trying to build a faith community that is about redeeming and renewing and bringing life and health back into the Midwest City community,” he said. “And I’d love to partner with anybody that has ideas to help us do that.”
For more information about the church, visit wickline.church or call (405) 732-3035 or (405) 732-0356.