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St. Bartholomew’s finds new home

Parishioners celebrate with worship and joint social hour

The beginning of the church year saw changes for the people and clergy of St. Bartholomew’s in Wichita. On December 5, 2021, the congregation moved into a new home with Southwest Presbyterian Church, 1511 West 27th Street South. The move brings St. Bartholomew’s back to southwest Wichita after an extended period of transition.

In the fall of 2019, St. Bartholomew’s learned that it would need to move from its home in a storefront. Thanks to the grace of the clergy and people of St. John’s in downtown Wichita, St. Bart’s and its clothing ministry were not long without a home. The partnership of the two congregations began at the same time as the formation of the Wichita Minster and the opportunities for joint ministry were exciting. However, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the potential for ministry.

St. Bartholomew’s parishioners enjoy first joint social hour with members of Southwest Presbyterian.

Over the course of the next couple years, St. Bartholomew’s began to articulate a yearning to return to their neighborhood in the southwest. St. Bartholomew’s is grateful for the support and love of St. John’s, but the downtown context hasn’t felt like “home.” At the end of 2021, that yearning reached a climax and, with Bishop Bascom’s blessing, St. Bartholomew’s leadership started to explore options for a return to the southwest.

Initial conversations and exploration were fruitful. Bishop Bascom and Gail Doering, Presbytery Executive of the Presbytery of Southern Kansas, worked with both congregations to start with a strong base of grace and clear expectations. The initial year-long agreement was signed by all parties on November 14, 2022 and includes provisions for St. Bartholomew’s clothing ministry to run out of Southwest Presbyterian. Both congregations will worship on Sunday mornings with opportunities for social overlap.

In a bit of spirit-led serendipity, St. Bartholomew’s first Sunday at Southwest Presbyterian fell on the previously scheduled day of Bishop Bascom’s visitation. The bishop preached and presided at a Eucharist service. Her sermon reflected on the day’s reading from the prophet Baruch. Where God speaks through Baruch to Jerusalem, Bishop Bascom invited St. Bartholomew’s to hear God speaking about southwest Wichita: “Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O southwest Wichita, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.” Bishop Bascom also took part in the two congregations’ first official joint social hour.

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