A new United Methodist Church in is seeing increased attendance after merging with another congregation and overhauling its building.
"It's going really well," said Matt Miofsky, lead pastor for The Gathering. He gave tours of the church's newest location, 101 N. Bemiston Ave., during a June 5 reception sponsored by the .
The Gathering began six years ago on McCausland Avenue in St. Louis city with the goal of growing into the surrounding community. That site still functions as a separate congregation.
When the opportunity arose to merge with an existing congregation in Clayton, members at the McCausland site agreed to help. A renovation of the building, including its sanctuary and upper level, started in July. Worship at the site began this January.
Whereas the original congregation generally drew 50 people for worship, The Gathering now hosts a total of 160 to 200 people at its two services.
Miofsky said The Gathering aims to be different.
"Churches have a tendency not to change," he said. To that end, members aimed to connect with people aesthetically through the renovations, to bring technology into the worship space (screens onto which messages can be projected are positioned throughout the auditorium) and to welcome everyone.
Churches are often viewed as places of judgment, Miofsky said. The Gathering welcomes people just as they are and challenges them to grow from that point. The music, prayers and messages offered as part of worship are intended to be thoughtful and relevant.
Those with a lot of questions will fit right in.
"We're the kind of place for you," Miofsky said.
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