Heights Christian Church has served the neighborhood and surrounding community for more than 100 years.
But when Rev. Amber Mattingly became the church’s pastor at the end of February and started talking to residents about it, she said she was met with a reaction that suggested the congregation at 1703 Heights Blvd. was a new and unknown commodity.
“Our first goal is to be relevant in the community. That is something that over the past several decades, we have completely lost touch,” she said. “When I went talking to different people, they had no idea who we were and where we were, and we’ve been in the neighborhood since 1912. So that says something.”
The church and its new leader hope to make a renewed splash in the community and already are taking steps toward that end. Mattingly said Heights Christian Church resumed in-person services on Easter Sunday, after operating virtually for more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weekly services are held at 10 a.m. Sunday, and there also is an adult Bible study on Wednesday nights that is held virtually through Zoom, among other regular events. Mattingly, who also is a yoga and meditation teacher, recently held a yoga session in the church’s garden as well.
And she is organizing a community-wide event planned for next May called “Heights Got Talent.” Mattingly envisions the event as a showcase for the community’s youngsters that will be held at Lambert Hall, which is on the church campus and used to be the venue for Opera in the Heights.
“Why would we not use this facility in some way to benefit the community?” she asked.
Mattingly said Heights Christian Church wants to benefit all members of the community, even if they practice another Christian denomination or different faith altogether. She said the church membership decided two years ago to become an open and affirming congregation “that extends the full responsibilities and privileges of membership to people of all nationalities, political persuasions, genders, sexualities and neurotypes.”
“I think really we are entering into a new season of ministry, where our focus truly is on celebrating the beautiful diversity of our community,” Mattingly added. “That’s something I bring, but also the church is really uniquely positioned to see that as their mission.”