First Baptist Turner has been a steady presence in Kansas City, Kansas, since 1857. Founded on the frontier, it still sees itself as a frontier presence because of its willingness to go into territory usually ignored by churches. The church has a thriving ministry with homeless persons, many of whom camp along the bluffs of the Kaw River, not too far from the church. The Rev. Dr. Steve Neal is the unique combination of grit, intellect, tenacity, and theological wisdom best suited to lead this congregation.
The website describes the church as “a safe and caring place for you to experience God.” I witnessed the truth of this statement as I attended the ordination of Cindy Albright Boyer last evening. It was not your usual ordination, to be sure. At Cindy’s request, it was a part of the monthly community meal, and appropriately it was a celebration of Thanksgiving.
The Rev. Cindy Albright Boyer completed her Master of Divinity studies this past spring at Central. She worked as an Occupational Therapist, active leader in her church, and committed family member while pursuing her degree. Thankfully, the seminary schedules classes that working professionals can attend. Now serving as the Associate Pastor, she will offer well-honed gifts in the expanding ministry of the church.
The gathering last evening was as varied as is the Body of Christ. Members of the Turner church were there, as well as guests who are a part of the congregation’s outreach in the community. Regional representatives, seminary friends and faculty, and others from area ABC churches filled the fellowship hall. We were all colors, all classes, all struggling Christians.
At one point during the service, the pastor opened the floor for anyone to offer affirmation to the one being ordained. Many spoke, and their praise was profuse, tenderly personal. Cindy had touched their lives, bringing welcome and healing to brokenness and isolation. While there was not a formal laying on of hands, everyone who passed Cindy’s table patted her on the shoulder with warmth and affection. The blessing in that—and the kindling of her gifts—was evident.
She has found creative ways to connect with people who have little acquaintance with things of faith. She invited one young man to play in a community orchestra with her; he then found his way to church. He spoke about Pastor Cindy as always being there for him. Clearly gifted, it appears he may be discerning Christian vocation through her ministry.
Others spoke about how they had found a spiritual home at the church and planned never to leave. The sense of belonging was palpable in the room, and I sensed something extraordinary going on in the congregation. It is a safe and caring place for people to experience God, and they are being transformed by the way they are being woven into the fabric of the people of God at First Baptist Turner.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares ministers for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.