PAXTON — A Paxton church that has been temporarily closed since November is expected to re-open with a new look, a new brand and, hopefully, more members.
The Rev. Jeremy Stimac said he decided to close the Church of the Nazarene at 302 W. State St. when he became its pastor on Nov. 1, hoping that doing so would give the church time to rebrand itself, complete an extensive remodel and renovation of the church building, and conduct outreach activities in the community with the goal of boosting its dwindling membership.
While much of that work remains ongoing this spring, the church is at least ready to show off some of its new aspects.
A “soft relaunch” of the church will be held on Easter Sunday (April 21) when the church will offer a 10 a.m. worship service for the first time in more than five months while also giving the public a “sneak peek as to some of the changes we’ve made,” Stimac said. While the church has been closed, its members have held only private services on Sunday afternoons. Stimac said he expects some 50 to 60 people to show up for the Easter service — and he hopes many will return in the future.
Stimac said all of the changes to the church should be completed by Sept. 15, when a “hard relaunch” will be held. It is the same date as National Go Back to Church Day, Stimac noted.
Besides improving the church’s look and accessibility through the remodeling and renovations, Stimac said he hopes to boost the church’s membership by September by having the church’s existing 27 members complete some “spiritual and evangelism training.” Part of the reason for shutting down the church was to train them “to reach their “Oikos,” Stimac said, referring to a Greek term that he said means “your circle of influence.” Stimac said the training will be used by church members to recruit their “neighbors, friends and family members who maybe don’t go to church.”
The church has been in existence since the 1940s but has “never really ran much over 30 to 40 people” in its membership, Stimac noted.
The active membership was even less when Stimac arrived in Paxton last fall. The church’s Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group, he said, was larger than the attendance at the church’s Sunday service at that time.
So, Stimac said, the church took action.
“Bringing it into the next generation was kind of the real emphasis,” Stimac said.
In addition to making a push for new members in recent months, the church has been remodeling and renovating its sanctuary “to make it more accessible and inviting to people in the community,” Stimac said. That included selling all of its pews and replacing them with chairs that can be more easily moved, if necessary, to create space for various community events. A new sound system was also installed.
With the new look and feel, Stimac said he hopes the church will become a site for hosting events such as baby showers or parties.
The name of the church remains unchanged, but its “branding name” is now “PaxNaz,” Stimac said.