KANSAS CITY – Just north of the river in Kansas City, Randolph Baptist Church (RBC) was dying. Since 2005, it’d lost 80 percent of its membership and split. Twice. When their pastor retired in 2019, the church consisted of only five members. It was essentially a home without a church.
A few miles away in Gladstone, Sudanese Community Church had been meeting in Linden Baptist Church, but was looking for a more permanent place to worship and be a gospel light to the northern African immigrant community. When COVID threw a wrench into everyone’s plans last year, the church felt even more strongly they needed a place to call their own. They were a church without a home.
Pastor Sylvestor Lubani said they wanted to build, but the finances just weren’t there, and it seemed like having their own place of worship was a goal far out of reach.
“Never did we think this would come about, but our prayers were constant,” he said.
They weren’t the only one’s praying.
“We didn’t see much of a way for our church to bounce back, but we’d been praying,” said Ed Becker the lone deacon at Randolph.
They sought out Gary Mathes, director of missions for Clay Platte Baptist Association, to explore possible options for their future, including allowing their building to be used by another church in the association that was looking for a place to gather for worship. They agreed to pursue this option in January of this year, and the next week, Lubani and Sudanese Community Church jumped on board as well.
“We felt like it was a God thing,” Becker said. “After meeting with them, we saw a lot of zeal, and we believed they’d use it for the Kingdom of God.”
The Sudanese church met together for the first time in over a year on Easter Sunday in the Randolph building. After a 10-step process and several weeks, they hit upon an ingeniously simple plan to transfer ownership of the church building to the new congregation.
“It was a win-win,” Mathes said. “It helped Randolph leave a legacy with their building, and a wonderful opportunity for the Sudanese to have a place to worship and thrive.”
At a regular worship service on June 6, Mathes preached at Randolph and at the conclusion opened the invitation for membership.
Twenty-three Sudanese believers came forward and presented themselves for membership and were voted on by the current RBC members per their constitution as full-fledged members of RBC. The following Sunday, the new makeup held a business meeting and called Lubani as their pastor. At that same meeting the original remaining Randolph members voluntarily resigned their offices, and the church then nominated and elected new officers from the Sudanese members who had recently joined the church.
The former Randolph members are currently seeking new church homes in the area, but for the Sudanese, the final step was to settle things with the Missouri Secretary of State so they could officially be the Sudanese Community Church Doing Business As Randolph Baptist Church.
Everything was done according to the governing documents of Randolph, for a grand total of $7 in filing fees.
The church found a home, the home found a church, and the gospel continues to be preached from Randolph Baptist Church. “This is the greatness of God!” Lubani said.