2 Chicago Area Churches Embrace Diversity, Bring People Closer, - New York News

2 Chicago Area Churches Embrace Diversity, Bring People Closer, Grow Services

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One of the most segregated places you used to find Christian America was at church. These days, though, Sunday mornings are changing.

As one mega-church in Northwest Indiana proves, more churches are becoming diverse and the racial divide that once separated the faith is now bringing it closer together through the generations.

Family Christian Center, a non-denominational multi-cultural church, was just named the 20th largest in America -- out of 433,000 churches.

That's a success story in anyone's book. And it’s where services are anything but normal. “(Pastor Steve) is willing to go to any lengths to reach everyone; I don't care who it is,” one person said.

In fact, you might think you're at a rock concert or Broadway play.

Pastors Steve and Melodye Munsey say it's all by design.

"No other church my entire life has awakened me like this one has. He is great,” Melodye said of Steve.

“When I decided to go into ministry,” Steve said, “my prayer was God to make church a lot more interesting."

"It's a place of involvement for the entire family,” Melodye said. “Parents don't have to drag their kids to church."

"We are talking about reaching this generation. They go to concerts, movies...this whole generation is driven by atmosphere," Steve explained.

His technique might be unique, but Pastor Munsey says his message of loving people and trusting Jesus has broken racial barriers, which keep people coming back each week.

“It's not just me doing a sermon,” he said. “It’s hundreds and hundreds. Sometimes it can be 500. I think we give hope and inspire people...of course it's all backed up biblically. When people come they're looking for assurance of, ‘Can I face tomorrow?’"

Twenty-five years ago, Pastor Steve and Melodye took over for his dad. They began with just a few hundred members. These days they could see upward of 30,000 over multiple weekend services.

In fact, they've outgrown their current building and already broken ground on a new $60 million state of the art facility.

A field of weeds will become a field of dreams for the church's new 10,000-seat auditorium complete with 30 acres of parking. And it's all possible because of faithful congregants.

“Everything is done on donation,” Steve said. “People see the vision and they give and that's how we have gotten to this point.”

The church also attracts some high profile celebrities and politicians. One Sunday you might see R&B star R.Kelly. On another, Bulls superstar Derek Rose.

“It's nothing to look up and see people. One time I looked up and saw the Jackson family,” Steve said.

But Pastor Steve isn't done yet. Not even close.

The stars might be coming out to Indiana. But the son is rising in Chicago -- Steve and Melodye's son, Kent Munsey.

Pastor Kent and his wife Alli, who also preaches, started Sunday morning services four months ago at City Church Chicago.

“I recently found out it is one of the most un-churched cities; there are less people going to church in Chicago than any other,” Kent said. “I believe it's a great opportunity for me and my wife Alli to build a young, vibrant, passionate church."

Already, their explosive growth has them filling two services.

Just like his dad, Kent creates a similar atmosphere at the Chicago Performing Arts Center at Chicago and Halsted, where they worship every Sunday.

"I think a lot of people think they have to get good to get God,” Alli said. “But really you need God to get good and if they would just come into the church and realize that God is for you… he's not against you."

The staff here is made completely of volunteers. No one gets paid from City Church, not even the pastors.

"I do it because of the people,” Kent said. “I think there's a vision here, there's a mission here and there's a spirit of loving God and being real with yourself and growing."

Kent grew up in the shadow of his father's church. Now, he hopes his own sons will continue the legacy of building God's kingdom and changing lives.

“My hope is that we would be a light in this city, a light for good. A light that points to God and gives people hope,” he said.

"The bible says that when the righteous rule, the city rejoices and I believe that God is going to use us in a great way."

One city. One church. One person and two generations at a time.

The founder of Family Christian Center, Bishop Frank Munsey, passed away on Feb. 5 at the age of 80.

Even after his son took over the church, he continued serving in the ministry as a missionary and even building a Christian school in Bulgaria.

Today his legacy lives on.

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