The African group at the New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas, United States, has a congregation of approximately 150 who regularly attend church services. The group began in 2003 with a few families and friends from Kenya who gathered in their homes for Bible study and worship. They predominantly used the Swahili language during their meetings. The group has since grown to incorporate members from other African countries including Tanzania, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Nigeria, regional church leaders reported.
In 2017, Ezra Okioma, an associate pastor in the Wichita South district in Kansas, was assigned to guide and lead the group. The group has since grown considerably, with Okioma’s commitment to training and empowering its leaders. The support of the other local pastors at New Haven Church has also helped in the growth and participation of the African community membership in the church.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the group gained more membership through regular virtual meetings. The first virtual camp meeting was held in May 2020 with more than 200 members in attendance through Zoom. Three souls committed to be baptized that year.
The second camp meeting took place in August 2021. The group held hybrid meetings where members attended virtually through the week but, on Saturday (Sabbath), attended an-person meeting at the church hall. During the meetings, the congregation covered various topics on health, prophecy, family life, youth, children, and the weekly sermon. More than 240 participated on Zoom through the week, and on Sabbath, more than 170 attended in person. Two people were baptized as a result of the meetings.
In 2022, the group also held a hybrid camp meeting, where more than 300 members attended virtually through the week. On Sabbath, the whole group met at New Haven Adventist church together with other regular members of the church. More than 250 African members attended in the main sanctuary.
“It was a blessing having various African speakers sharing messages of revival through the week,” Okioma said. “Through these meetings, the church has been baptizing new people who joined the church. The African group leadership is committed to reaching out to all cultures, especially those from African descent, in Kansas City, for Christ.”