Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Making use of church facilities propels community forward


Barnard Memorial United Methodist Church is using its large facility to serve the community with space rentals for businesses and nonprofit organizations, plus recreation and more. Submitted photo.
Members of Barnard Memorial United Methodist Church in Holdenville looked at their huge building, which is only used a few hours on Sundays and a few more on Wednesdays, and began to wonder how they could use that space to help their community.

Before the leadership group even had a chance to meet and discuss the possibilities, the community was overwhelmingly on board. In Holdenville, there isn’t a lot of office space available for rent. This leaves organizations and groups searching for solutions.

Rev. Kris Mayberry, pastor at Barnard Memorial, reached out to Revs. Matt Patrick and Matt Austin at University United Methodist in Tulsa and asked for their advice on how to make the church’s space available to rent. “They have been amazing,” said Mayberry. “We took a group to tour their church to see their innovative approach to bringing in alternative sources of income for their church, which includes renting out empty rooms within their building to local businesses.”

“Next, Matt and Matt came to Holdenville to tour our church and other property we own. They gave us an assessment of our readiness and suitability to generate income outside of the offering plate,” said Mayberry.

One tenant is a mental health clinic, which will offer counseling and therapy services from offices in the church building. “People need these resources, but there’s been nowhere to put them,” Mayberry said.

Thinking about ministry in a different way, Mayberry said this project focuses on economic development in Holdenville. It provides an opportunity to develop deeper relationships with the community as a whole.

The Holdenville community has seen its share of hardships, like drugs and homelessness. Many residents are in transitional housing, like trailers or pop-up tents. For that reason, the church started a shower ministry, building a two million dollar addition featuring nice, handicap-accessible showers. Fifteen people in the community regularly shower at the church once or twice a week.

“We get to know people on a closer level,” said Mayberry. Church staff and volunteers help with food stamps, Sooner Care, finding employment, and even helping people get their GEDs.

“A lot of people have guilt. We pray with them through that,” Mayberry intoned. “There’s a lot of pastoral care in this ministry.”

Additionally, a member of the community offers four yoga classes per week, with a portion of the proceeds going to the church. Square dancers have used the facility before, and may return. The Oklahoma Blood Institute holds blood drives at the church.

Two photographers have expressed interest in renting space for studios.

The Women’s Farm Bureau is a group who collects used medical equipment - like wheelchairs, crutches, and shower benches - and distributes it to those who can’t afford it or can’t make the trip to the bigger town of Ada, which is 45 minutes away. The group had nowhere to store the badly-needed medical equipment. Barnard Memorial stepped into that gap and is providing space.

Matt Patrick and Matt Austin of University United Methodist Church toured Barnard Memorial in Holdenville with the UUMC’s Propel Ministry Coaching and Consulting program.

“We’ve always asked the community for assistance, but now we’re able to give assistance, too,” said Mayberry. She included that the church is working to ensure that rent prices are set low enough to be affordable, but to also allow support for organizations that can’t afford to pay rent.

“It’s a very unique time in the life of the church,” said Mayberry. “This move makes the church more important as a center of the community.”

Propel is a business owned and operated by University United Methodist church as part of its alternate income model. With this program, the church rents space in the church for events or for office space. This generates income and provides a service to the community. The church also owns Double Flag Coffee, which is a mobile trailer that offers full coffee service at events.

All proceeds from UUMC’s alternate income sources support ministries and mission


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