Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, Kansas City, Missouri, has opened its doors to two additional congregations. Under the leadership of Rev. Sheralyn Smith, Cornerstone Wesleyan Church shares their building weekly with a Micronesian and a Congolese church. Each meets at Cornerstone, conducting their own services at different times.

Three congregations with three pastors holding three separate church services creates a lot of logistics to be managed. Yet, they all get along very well and work together wonderfully, according to Rev. Smith. Each congregation does their part to care for the one church building they steward as ministry partners in their diverse city.

Rev. Smith and her husband Nathan first moved to the Kansas City area in 2010 as part of a church plant launch team. A volunteer, never imagining she would ever become a pastor, Rev. Smith agreed to “fill in” as the youth group leader until a youth pastor could be found. Ever since, she has served in one ministry capacity or another amid changes and challenges, consistently following God’s leading and faithfully serving wherever he has opened the door.

Before transitioning into fulltime ministry, Rev. Smith served as an American Sign Language interpreter at a university. Her bilingual experiences have helped her to see that “God is so much bigger than the box that we try to put him in,” Rev. Smith shared. “I’ve learned to trust him in all things, and I’ve learned the importance of not overlooking the little things.”

Since 2018, Rev. Smith has served as lead pastor at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church. Under her leadership, their Kansas City building now hosts four different languages on any given weekend (English, Kinyamulenge, Kiswahili and Micronesia).

Kansas City’s demographic consists of a lot of refugees and immigrants. This dynamic has brought about unique opportunities for Cornerstone Wesleyan to serve as a Kingdom Force within their community. By extending the walls of their church, both literally and figuratively, they have experienced God at work among them.

“Being the body of Christ, we are able to bless other churches because we have a church building …,” Rev. Smith shared. “They can come, worship and bring others to faith inside different community groups that we wouldn’t be able to minster to on our own.”

This partnership and sharing of a building space began several years ago when the Micronesians drove by Cornerstone Wesleyan and wanted to know about utilizing their building. In August 2022, the Congolese church was sent to them after reaching out to the Tri-State District office when their friend, Pastor Sebanyana Budondu, who serves at Lynwood Wesleyan Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, recommended they join The Wesleyan Church. Rev. Smith shared, “We want them to be able to do the ministry that God has called them to do, so we are happy to have them.”

Desiring to be a part of Cornerstone Wesleyan but also wanting to symbolize their distinct group within the local body, the Congolese congregation chose the name “United Wesleyan Church.” About 80% of their congregation do not speak English, so having combined services all the time would be challenging.

Navigating cultural differences — like styles of worship or how to celebrate specific days on the church calendar — as well as conversations regarding the translation and meaning of words such as “ordination” or “commission” in different languages and cultures, Rev. Smith shared she is finding that these distinctives help enrich the body.

In November 2022, these partner churches held a combined service where in their native language each led a song and every pastor prayed. Rev. Smith said, “I went up to pray and was just humbled and feeling thankful to God because I got a picture of heaven with all tribes, nations and tongues. It didn’t matter that we spoke in different languages.” Afterward, they celebrated as one body of believers by sharing a meal together.

This event’s success has given them a vision for the future which includes worshipping as one congregation periodically throughout the year.

Each congregation sharing resources has benefitted everyone involved. From the utilization of the baptistry to a bread ministry to a food pantry, the kingdom mindset of these congregations is a beautiful picture of diversity working together for maximum impact!

From Rev. Smith’s experience of sharing a limited space with multiple congregations containing multiple cultures and languages, she offered this advice, “Be willing to be uncomfortable, to listen well, and to come to the table willing to learn.”

Rev. Sarah Cochran is a Wesleyan pastor serving in Interchurch Service for Destiny Rescue, an agency rescuing kids from sex trafficking worldwide, and a graduate of Wesley Seminary, Marion, Indiana.