Wherever there is pain and suffering, there should be people of God, said Bob Roberts, senior pastor of NorthWood Church.
With that in mind, the progressive Keller church recently established a campus in downtown Fort Worth.
“It’s great that churches grow,” Roberts said. “Ours has grown in the Keller area. But those of us who God has especially blessed, he holds us accountable to those around us who need help.”
The 3,000-member church has long been active in Northeast Tarrant County and around downtown Fort Worth, according to people such as U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, Mayor Betsy Price and Charles E. Nash Elementary School Principal Nakita Brewer.
As the new principal at Nash, just a few blocks northeast of downtown, Brewer was introduced to the church Sept. 8, the day NorthWood launched 5 p.m. Sunday services at Norris Conference Centers on Houston Street, a couple of doors down from Reata restaurant.
Church members have made themselves indispensable at Nash Elementary, bringing homework help, enrichment activities and mentors to its after-school program. They have also pitched in with labor and materials to help create an outdoor learning center, Brewer said.
All that work proves that the church “wants to move ministry from inside four walls to outside, and that’s what I see them doing,” Brewer said. “Not just hit people over the head with a Bible but help wherever they can.”
NorthWood’s official welcome from the mayor took place during its service this past Sunday, which Price and Granger attended.
“NorthWood Church is one of so many faith-based organizations that work in our community to make Fort Worth a better place to live and work,” Price said. “I am very glad to have them open a downtown campus.”
Breaking down borders
NorthWood teaches that communities shouldn’t have borders, and a divided world needs to hear that message, Granger said in an email.
The church has shown “that by reaching out to our neighbors, we can transform where we live,” Granger said.
NorthWood has ministries in Vietnam and Mexico and regularly reaches out to other faiths.
In November, the church will sponsor the Global Faith Forum at its Keller campus with a theme of “We’re moving from a conversation about other faiths to a conversation with other faiths.” Scheduled speakers include Wadah Khanfar, former director general of the international media network Al Jazeera, and Jorge Sampaio, former president of Portugal.
Vicki and Mark Scott, NorthWood members who lived near the Keller campus for four years, moved to a downtown Fort Worth apartment two years ago. They’re involved in the church’s international ministry — working in Vietnam at least once a year — and are active at the new campus.
“Mark and I serve on the first-impressions team, greeting people at the information table with coupons for local restaurants,” Vicki Scott said. “We want people to make an evening of it. Come to church at 5 and afterward go to dinner, and we’ll help you out with a coupon.”
NorthWood represents what God called her to do — “to show the world that he’s the God who loves people,” she said.
Strengthening Fort Worth
Roberts said NorthWood didn’t come to Fort Worth to start a worship service but to try to have a positive influence on the downtown community.
Starting with existing programs that help feed and clothe homeless and poor residents in and around downtown, NorthWood members also found themselves working with refugees from countries like Myanmar, Nepal and Somalia, Roberts said.
Soon, some of those Fort Worth residents were showing up at the Keller church’s services. Then several asked for a downtown location. Now, only weeks after merging with Skyline Fellowship — a church that was already meeting at Norris Conference Centers — the group is 200 strong.
“Anyone who loves Jesus, or doesn’t love Jesus but loves to serve people and wants to see Fort Worth strengthened, is welcome to be a part,” Roberts said.