Leaders of a new urban ministry just outside the Plaza District said their congregation is flourishing because several metro-area churches gave them much-needed support.
That unified effort of people from diverse churches and backgrounds is a theme that runs throughout the story of how Crestwood Vineyard came into existence.
The Rev. Charles Bello, senior pastor of Crestwood Vineyard, and the Rev. A.T. Hargrave, the ministry's teaching pastor, said the church started in September 2013, but its identity is still being shaped.
Bello, 59, and Hargrave, 30, said Crestwood Vineyard's first service in the Crestwood Baptist Church building at 2515 NW 16 drew about 250 people.
“It's definitely a new work, but it has this momentum that is unusual,” Hargrave said.
The pastors said helping to get the new church up and running were Frontline Church; Crestwood Baptist and its Transformation House ministry; an Edmond house church called Tribe; and LifeChurch.tv Northwest Oklahoma City.
“We could only do this church plant because other churches helped us,” Bello said.
“We joke all the time that we're either, ‘A,' really good leaders, or, ‘B,' God is in this. We're counting on ‘B,'” Hargrave said, smiling. “We're trying not to mess it up.”
Part of the momentum Hargrave described comes from the ministry's location, the clergymen said.
They said the Crestwood Baptist Church building is just outside the Plaza District, a blend of commercial businesses, neighborhoods and arts venues along NW 16 between Blackwelder and Indian Avenues.
Hargrave, who served as senior pastor of Crestwood Baptist from 2006 until September, said the area has experienced a revitalization of sorts, and the new church is benefiting.
The leaders said some young families that attend the church, drawn to the area's vintage vibe, are moving into the Plaza District, while at the same time, the ministry is drawing many homeless people who take refuge in the area. Hargrave said the neighborhoods surrounding the church also are an eclectic mix, with homes that sell for more than $200,000 and those that sell for under $100,000.
Bello said he and Hargrave want to see Crestwood Vineyard serve the disenfranchised and those in need — becoming part of the community and not just a congregation that meets in a building in the neighborhood. He said he likes to think the new ministry is taking over where the Southern Baptists who built the church left off.
“We just see ourselves building on the faithfulness of the church that started here in the 1940s,” Bello said.
“We see their faithfulness as part of our story.”
Bello and Hargrave said it's obvious to them that the Lord is molding and shaping the ministry's members and leaders as they seek to draw others to Christ. They said they arrived at this conclusion, in part, because of how well they work together despite their diverse backgrounds and ages.