Months before there was a name, there was a vision of a new Disciples congregation in southeast Olathe. Initially, a task force of the region, led by Associate Regional Minister, Glen Stewart, met to define geographical boundaries of the congregation, establish funding, and call a pastor. On August 1, 1990, the Rev. Holly McKissick began her ministry as the pastor-developer of the "new church start in east Olathe."
In September, the first organizational meeting was held with seventeen or so creative, energetic folks who shared a commitment to a church called together around God's peace and compassion for all. For the next six months, this rag-tag bunch met twice a month on Sunday evenings for worship and sharing, conducted a telephone campaign to persons living in the target area (with the help of hundreds of regional volunteers) and prayed and planned for the new church. On Palm Sunday, 1991, a "practice" worship service (with about 45 in attendance) was held at Briarwood Elementary School, and on Easter Sunday the first public worship was held, numbering 180, including many regional supporters. Hank Riffe, a member of Country Club Christian Church and the new church task force, remembers those formative days, "...there was a spirit working between and among us...to bring all of us together into a community of one people. A community that cares for one another. A community that is built upon love, acceptance and forgiveness."
Before dedicating the church sanctuary in June of 1999, the congregation spent eight years worshipping in school gyms: Briarwood, Countryside and finally, Walnut Grove. This eight-year period of "homelessness" was instructive and formative for Saint Andrew – providing an extended time to focus on the mission of the church – who are we? what is our mission? how can we serve? Early on in our journey, (June of 1992), Saint Andrew made the decision to "twin" with a community in the mountains of El Salvador, El Higueral. This twentyone-year relationship of accompaniment – between suburban mid-westerners and peasant farmers – has invaluably shaped both communities. Our brothers and sisters in El Salvador have pushed Saint Andrew members to examine faith, stewardship, foreign policy, and commitment to true community. Their steadfast faith – in the face of civil war and its aftermath – continues to guide and challenge Saint Andrew's ministry.
Mission and outreach have been central focuses of Saint Andrew. The majority of members volunteer in the community. Creating an inclusive church family has been enlivening to our congregation. An "Open and Affirming" congregation, Saint Andrew welcomes people regardless of class, race, sexual orientation, or political party! Dynamic, joyful worship is a hallmark of our young church. The widely acclaimed classical (blues, jazz, folk) guitarist, Cynthia Egger has served since the church's inception as our Director of Music.
The church has been blessed with a strong stable staff, including, but not limited to, our pastor and director of music, who have served Saint Andrew since its inception. Our church administrator, Debbi Adams, has served since 1993 and Rev. Denise Dugan, our Associate Pastor of Faith Formation, is a founding member. We are so proud that a number of our members, raised in the Saint Andrew community, have been ordained or are currently preparing for ministry.
An old African proverb says, "those who build the community are built by it..." Few tasks have been as time-consuming, challenging, or faith-forming as the task of constructing a "sacred space" for Saint Andrew Christian Church. Joel Barnes, a founding member and chair of the building committee (for 7 years) led the pastor, the building committee, and the congregation into a relationship with a visionary team of architects from Berkeley, California. From this relationship, a sanctuary with soaring trusses and a hearthroom built of straw bales came into being. The gracious gifts of the "friends of Saint Andrew" (totaling nearly half a million dollars) fortified the construction of our church home. A ten-thousand square foot-addition for education and administrative space was completed in June of 2003.