New church takes center stage at Schwartz Center

Pastor Kenneth Wagner, pictured with wife Sherry, after nearly a year of planning will hold United Church’s first service on Sept. 20 at the Schwartz Center in Dover. (Submitted photo)

Pastor Kenneth Wagner, pictured with wife Sherry, after nearly a year of planning will hold United Church’s first service on Sept. 20 at the Schwartz Center in Dover. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Since March, United Church has been making its mark in Dover with community service projects and monthly vision nights.

Now, its first formal service will be held in two weeks at the Schwartz Center for the Arts.

The unlikely pairing of United and the Schwartz came to fruition when Pastor Kenneth Wagner approached Schwartz Center executive director Sydney Arzt.

“She wants the Schwartz to be fully representative of the community and was willing to host us,” Mr. Wagner said. “It’s definitely more of a partnership than the typical renter/tenant relationship.”

Members of the congregation will do more with the Schwartz Center than just attend Sunday services there.

Members will lend a hand at events in various capacities from ushering guests to their seats to managing audio and visual equipment.

When United makes its debut at the Schwartz Center on Sept. 20, more than 75 people will be attending. Despite not having a formal location until only weeks ago, the church already has gained a large local following.

After starting his career at Calvary Wesleyan in Harrington, Mr. Wagner said about half of the active United members come from his home church and the other half are brand new with an age range sprawling between babies to the elderly.

“When people see we aren’t advertising as a church, we are advertising as an organization that’s for Dover, we find a common ground that isn’t just spirituality,” Mr. Wagner said.

The church’s motto, “for Dover” is more than a slogan, it’s a practice. At monthly vision nights, the church has collected donations such as canned food for food pantries, coats for Code Purple and school supplies for local schools.

“It actually worked out perfectly,” Mr. Wagner said. “After we collected school supplies, we heard from Booker T. Washington (Elementary School) that there were families who needed help getting supplies and we were there to help them.”

Aside from donating, the church has done community service projects such as trash clean-up and even pressure washing buildings downtown.

When all the individuals who have volunteered with the church begin to congregate at the Schwartz Center on Sept. 20, Mr. Wagner said he wants it to be a church experience like no other.

“The first few weeks at our new home will be a celebratory atmosphere, this has been a long time coming,” Mr. Wagner said. “And we want people to come to our services and feel welcomed and like they’re coming home, not that they’re simply going to church.”

Each Sunday sermon will be about 75 minutes long and Mr. Wagner will focus on applying biblical lessons to real life.

“It’s not just about truth for the sake of truth, it’s about truth for the sake of practicality,” he said.

While the grown-ups are hearing from Mr. Wagner, kids from six weeks through fifth grade also will have a place to go to learn about Jesus Christ.

“Kids will be able to learn about the teachings of Jesus on their level and we won’t be doing the typical student ministry,” Anthony MacDonald, United’s generational pastor said. “The idea is to have weekly meetings focused on community and a large monthly event.”

Around fifth grade is when Mr. Wagner and Mr. MacDonald plan on getting kids involved in the Sunday services.

“It’s important that when they’re old enough to serve on Sundays to keep them involved and interested,” Mr. Wagner said.

And a large portion of the church’s members are young families so United plans on having lots of little hands to help out in the coming years, but now it’s all about getting the long-planned project in motion.

“Getting United Church off the ground has been the most challenging but also most fun experience of my life,” Mr. Wagner said.

Weekly services begin Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. at the Schwartz Center located at the corner of North and South State streets in Dover.

Information about parking can be found at unitedchurchde.com. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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