For Christ and for the Community
Since its beginnings in 2011, Christ Community Church of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, has focused on the Person of Jesus and the concept of living in connection with other believers for fellowship, growth, and accountability. Those two priorities—Christ and community—are so important to the congregation that they form the church’s name.
From the outset, “Christ Community Church has always wanted to be intentionally and aggressively engaged in the community around us,” says Pastor Luvirt Parker. One of the congregation’s first outreach programs was a basketball league for young men and women. It started while the church members were still meeting in Parker’s home and has grown quickly. The 2019 Winter Basketball League, which began in February and will run through April, served approximately 150 young people.
In addition, Christ Community has participated in prison ministry and launched Young Men in Action, a character-development and after-school tutoring program that serves boys in local middle schools. All the church’s programs are designed to serve the immediate neighborhood and draw people to Christ by meeting practical and spiritual needs.
Because of the church’s focus on building relationships—both within and outside the congregation—Christ Community has always hoped to have a facility that would be available seven days a week. “From the start, we had a vision for a location that would meet the needs of this community,” Parker says.
In fall 2018, such a building became available. Originally built by a Presbyterian Church, the property was recently owned by a local youth club that renovated it by adding a gymnasium and other gathering areas for young people to use after school. It was the ideal setting for Christ Community—a building designed as a place of worship and a recreation center.
Thanks to a building loan from Orchard Alliance, the church was able to purchase the unique facility, and Parker is looking forward to seeing how the public will benefit from it. Christ Community is completing minor updates and renovations to the building, and Parker says the church plans to move in this April.
When the work is finished, the people of Cleveland Heights will benefit from a place where they are welcomed and loved by people who know that the greatest community of all is the Body of Christ. Parker is excited about seeing how God will use the facility and is praying that He will continue to bless the congregation’s ministry as it expands its work. He also hopes his neighbors will view the new building as more than a church. “We want the community to see the building as theirs. We think of it as a community center that has church services on Sundays.”
The new building is larger than the current property and can provide seating for 500, more than triple the capacity of CCAC’s old building. It also has enough parking space for all three congregations. The new building is only 15 minutes away from the present one, so moving will not uproot the current church members. And, the new property is closer to the freeway, giving members better access to unreached Chinese neighborhoods and thus opening a new mission field to the church body.
The multi-cultural nature of CCAC allows the members to minister to Asian immigrants in distinctive ways. Pastor Loh says, “One thing that everybody is looking for, in one degree or another, is community.” But this can be challenging to find. In families of Chinese heritage, it’s common for the parents primarily to speak the home language and some English, while the children mainly speak English and some of the home language. Because CCAC offers English, Mandarin, and Cantonese worship services, the church can serve both parents and children in the language with which they are most comfortable.
Not only does the church have a unique ministry to Asian immigrants, but the English-speaking congregation has also become more multiethnic over the years. Community Christian’s heart is truly to reach all people for Christ while serving those of an Asian heritage in a special way. Pastor Loh asks, “Pray that we would see this new building as an opportunity for Christ to be glorified and that we would dream big for the sake of His glory.”