Four months ago the Rev. Adam Lewis arrived at Lincoln’s Connecting Pointe Church of the Nazarene, 1901 S. 70th St., as its new lead pastor.
It was the first such assignment for the young minister who filled a six-month vacancy for the church.
Not long into his tenure, he was told the church will celebrate its 100th anniversary Oct. 12-13, and he knew he needed a special sermon.
Undaunted, Lewis began researching the history behind the church, and was inspired by the faith and conviction of 35 former members of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene who created a new church on a plot of land at 1018 E St.
“I can see them waking on that first Sunday morning on July 21, 1913, and walking to the place that would be their new church,” Lewis writes in the sermon he will present on Oct. 13.
That day, a tent stood on the site, but soon, they hoped to begin construction on a church building.
These 35 people came to create a new church “that would emphasize holiness of heart and life and focus on the outcasts of society,” Lewis said.
“The church was built on the premise of the attenders being from the land of Nazareth,” Lewis writes in his sermon. “One that would welcome the least of these while still holding themselves a high standard of Godly living. Not sure what the next day would hold, they sang like it didn’t matter and let God do the rest.”
They simply called their new place of worship: Church of the Nazarene. That first year, membership grew to 82 people.
Twenty years later the name changed to Lincoln First Church of the Nazarene. And seven years after that the church moved to a new and bigger location, at 33rd and C streets.
Cost of the new building was $21,000 — $7,000 of it came from William Cadwalder, owner of a local fur company. A significant donation, since just one year earlier the church raised only $5,500 to pay for day-to-day operations, Lewis said.
Membership grew to 273 parishioners. In 1971, the church moved again, this time to 1901 S. 70th St, where it remains today. In the 1990s, the church opened its child care, Noah’s Ark preschool and daycare.
“They are a big part of who we are at Connecting Pointe,” Lewis said.
In 2011, the church took the new and current name Connecting Pointe/First Nazarene Church.
“There is a lot of history. There have been good years and bad years,” Lewis said.
His centennial sermon will focus on the best brought by each generation to the church and the inspiration it provides for the future.
“I want to have the risk and adventure of those 35 that started it all in 1913. I want the courage of the congregation that moved in 1940 (when the U.S. was on the brink of World War II). I want the passion of God’s love to radiate to my neighbors and friends like it did … in the early 1980s,” he writes in his sermon. “There were people who gave their hearts, lives, their backs and every ounce of sweat that they could muster to see this place thrive.”
It’s a conviction he hopes to continue as the church’s 25th pastor in its 100-year history. Lewis previously served as associate pastor of the Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Nazarene for 13 years.
The Nazarene denomination is founded on the belief that anyone can be purified by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Nazarene Church is “a place where people can bring their messy lives and worries,” and find the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ, Lewis said.
His goal is to make the church and its 330 members more visible in Lincoln.
“So when people drive by they will know us for our generosity, and as a place where many families can go,” Lewis said.
“If we possess this truth that can change a life, why not be more visible and show people the love of Jesus … and love people from the inside out.”