By Kathy Feist
Just in time for Easter, a growing south Kansas City church has finally found a home.
Three Trails Community, a group-led church that touts diversity and community involvement, will officially relaunch services at its new location, 7735 Main St., on Easter Sunday, April 4.
Three Trails Community is known for its active involvement in the community, setting up Harvester’s mobile food pantries in Martin City and now at Center High School, donating appliances to Red Bridge Elementary School, providing free haircuts to children at the beginning of the school year as well as inviting the community to its block parties.
Three Trails Community launched in 2017 at the home of its founders, Pastor Blake Fortner and Terry Shane, co-pastor. It soon found a temporary home at Martin City Baptist Church, where it made its purpose clear by inviting the public to its community block party. In early 2020, the group moved to Red Bridge Elementary School.
And then Covid hit, and the schools and churches were shut down.
Fortunately, Three Trails had begun broadcasting their services live on Facebook prior to the shutdown. Fortner attributes this to its growth in members during the pandemic.
Another south Kansas City church, however, did not fare so well.
The Church in Waldo was losing members during the pandemic.
The church, whose members split in 2014 from Heart of Life Church in Lee’s Summit, had merged in 2016 with Antioch Baptist Church at 7735 Main St. After renaming the new congregation, members invested heavily in updating the 75-year-old building, installing new windows, carpet, boiler and HVAC system, repainting the walls and ceiling, modernizing the light fixtures and rehabbing the once-condemned basement into new meeting and child care spaces.
In October, two of the founding elders returned to Heart of Life, leaving the third and new elder, Travis Hamm, with a dilemma: continue on as Church in Waldo or partner with another church. He felt moved to form a partnership.
After meeting with other interested parties, a match was made with Three Trails Community.
On February 21, the church building once again had a new name. And Three Trails Community, at long last, had a place to call its own.
Fortner says the transition has been smooth. “It’s been a great transition,” he says. “Where we are weak, they are strong. For instance, we had singers but no musicians. The Church in Waldo had a ton of musicians.”
He said the Church in Waldo, which consists mostly of young adults, filled in their missing age group among young families and grandparents.
Both churches boast a membership from diverse cultures.
“We can now say we are a rainbow of color of skin and ages.” said Fortner.
Both shared the same views about the Bible and following Jesus’ example.
“Another big focus we shared is it is more about the Monday through Saturday than the Sunday service,” he says.
“We build community through serving the community,” he explains. “In the Bible, James says ‘You show me your faith. I will show you my faith by my works.’ “
“We show love by doing things,” he says.
Three Trails Community will continue to sponsor its Harvester’s mobile food pantry delivered to Center High School every third Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fortner says he looks forward to interacting with the surrounding community and eventually having block parties.
In the meantime, he is busy planning for the official relaunch on April 4, when the public is invited to the 9 and 11 a.m. Easter morning services. (The children’s ministry is only available during the 9 a.m. service.)
“When you show up, you will feel welcomed,” he stresses. “We take that to the nth degree.”