From 3% Latino to 70% first generation Spanish-speaking immigrants in 10 years; this is what happened in the Central Avenue neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas between 1996 and 2006. How does a 126-year-old church respond to such dramatic change in such a short time? Most mainline churches disappeared. But Grandview Park Presbyterian kept its doors open, started speaking Spanish in worship and became a pioneer in bi-lingual worship and ministry in Heartland Presbytery.
Ministries of the church include Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation (AIRR). This interfaith effort began with the church in 2006 in response to anti-immigrant rhetoric and the presence of Minutemen Militia in the community. AIRR inspires communities to welcome and include immigrants and refugees and advocates for immigrant justice locally and nationally.
A large part of the church’s mission is focused on the neighborhood children and youth. La Paz House after-school club is designed to provide a safe, caring environment for the community’s young people to grow and develop into disciples and leaders. Summer brings the 5-week La Paz Kids Club, which provides enrichment activities for 125 neighborhood children and youth. The church partners with the Harvesters Food Network to offer healthy food options for the participants. This partnership also provides monthly food supplements for those in need in our community.
Remaining open to the changes in the neighborhood and actively seeking to welcome and listen to neighbors has been key to the church’s mission. The church utilizes faith-based organizing principles to connect with the community. Grandview Park belongs to MORE2, the local Gamaliel organizing affiliate partner.
From the youth group to adult ministries, the church is crossing the boundaries of race and culture. Grandview Park has been transformed and blessed by new neighbors and is pushing the boundaries of ministry and mission in Heartland Presbytery and urban Kansas City.