Crowds at services here outgrowing facilities

Published 2:52 am Saturday, April 26, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Four pastors meeting at the Michiana Christian Embassy on Thursday said since the Church of Niles had its first monthly service in October last year, crowds have outgrown several local church buildings.
The Church of Niles holds its monthly service on the first Sunday of each month for participating members of the different churches which comprise the Niles Area Ministerial Association.
The Niles Area Ministerial Associations has existed for more than 40 years.
Before last year, the Church of Niles held only two major services each year, but the pastors said they have recently felt there is a need for more shared services to help the Niles church community to cope with unsettling national and global events.
The ministerial association pastors organizing the services are currently looking at ways to accommodate the number of people drawn to these services.
Jeff Whittaker, pastor at Michiana Christian Embassy and one who strongly believes in bringing together people from different denominations to worship and pray, said even at last year's first monthly service, the venue was pressed for space.
Whittaker estimates the last service held on Sunday, April 6, in the Niles High School auditorium attracted more than 700 people.
The three other ministerial association pastors who attended the meeting Thursday agreed with Whittaker. There seems to be a desire from members of several Niles church denominations to move together and share in Christian community services.
Terry White, a Beacon Baptist Church pastor, said the Church of Niles got started in the first place to give people from different denominations the opportunity to come together and worship while sharing their similarities rather than their differences.
And Pastor Dan Miller, with the First Missionary Church, said that is exactly what these services seem to do.
Steve Glei, a pastor at Mapleview Free Methodist Church, said since the monthly services began, new churches and new pastors have joined in the Church of Niles services.
One of the big problems having the Church of Niles service on Sundays, however, is that it collides with many people's regular church schedule.
Glei said many pastors, therefore, are trying to deal with that problem by working out a schedule so that church members can attend both.
Whittaker doesn't know what the Church of Niles is heading for, but he is optimistic that the Sunday services will continue to grow as more and more people find out about them.
However, somewhat in awe of the association's success, of one thing he is certain.