by Jordan DeWald
There were significant numbers at Pathway Church during the weekend of November 14, 2021:
- 1001, the number of seats in the new worship center, where the congregation met for the first time that weekend
- 6 professions of faith
- 50 years as a church body as of November 7, 2021, the same day as the new center was dedicated
There was a different number the people of Pathway kept their thoughts fixed on–the number one. More specifically “one more.” In Luke 15, Jesus taught the significance of that “one” using parables explains Chris Bohon, Associate Pastor of Worship at Pathway. Just as one lost sheep, one lost coin, and one lost son were prioritized by the finder, despite their possession of others that were not lost, the people of Pathway prioritize continuing to reach out to one more person who needs the love of God and the relationship with a community of believers.
As you walk on Pathway’s campus historical markers guide you through the story of Pathway’s growth through the years, as they continued to make room for “one more.”
The origin of the story does not have a marker because it is not even on the property Pathway sits on, just off of Renfro Street in Burleson, Texas. Pathway’s story started just across Thomas Street at Hughes Middle School, where the first congregation met under the name of St. Matthew Cumberland Presbyterian Church (that name would later change to Pathway in 2014). Several Burleson area families attended Cumberland Presbyterian churches in the greater Fort Worth area. They wanted to form a congregation where they lived with the desire always being to provide a place for people in the community. Bohon noticed similarities whenever he looked through photographs of Pathway’s history. The congregation has always been full of families, reflective of that founding group. St. Matthew moved to the property where the church currently resides, but at that time it was a property of two acres.
Pathway now resides on fifteen acres. The historical markers show the earliest areas where the church held their worship services, as well as how the church adapted to serve the people in the community. In 2003, the ARC was built as a multipurpose facility that was also supposed to temporarily house the contemporary service. A traditional service was held across campus in a separate building. The Crossing was built in 2015 to join the two buildings and provide a place for people to congregate and more gatherings to take place. The Neighborhood, a place specifically designed for children, was constructed at that time as well. In 2021, eighteen years after the church began meeting in the “temporary” space of the ARC, The Center was completed and will hold worship services on the weekends, middle school and high school services on Wednesday evenings, and community events during the week.
The Center was officially dedicated on November 7, 2021 on the fiftieth anniversary of the church. A crowd of well over 1,000 welcomed the new building and started the next chapter of their mission to share the love of God with their community and beyond. The building took just over one year to construct and can hold one thousand and one chairs. That is right, they always make sure to have room for “one more.” The seating is all floor level in this auditorium style room, that is designed with landings so that chairs can be moved, and tables brought in when it is not used for a large gathering. The Center is equipped with high quality audio and visual technology and streaming capabilities. Lighting can be done in zones depending on the size of the group in the room. A large cross is prominent at the front of the church, along with a wood carved altar table, serving to remind people of the primary purpose for that room and all that Pathway does. A unique item will also become a part of the stage over the next month, a box that will hold the Bible used for eighteen years in the ARC. Congregants were invited to highlight verses, and put their name in the Bible at the dedication service of The Center. That Bible will be placed in a box with a plexiglass lid that will then be positioned in the stage where the person teaching the message will stand. This will always serve as a reminder that the pastor is standing on the Word of God.
You will often hear Pathway described as a church without walls. That is true both technologically and physically. Pathway was streaming their services long before many churches had to start streaming in the time during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a dedicated space for the streaming technology built into The Center. The building itself is for the local community but it is important to note that it is also a great platform for those that are unable to be in the building. People from across the country join in the streamed services each week. One of the places the services are streamed to is The Bridge, which is a ministry within True Worth and the Presbyterian Night Shelter in Fort Worth. This is just one of the ways Pathway assists residents at the shelter. Members make regular visits and provide friendship, services, and resources.
Physically, the church ministry done outside the walls is as close as across the street from the church building and as far away as Ethiopia. Across the street holds the Pathway Gardens, a prayer garden, and a soon to be built neighborhood park. Pathway helps to meet the basic needs of their community through the produce grown in the garden, and with the Red Bag program where food is regularly collected for local food pantries. That program met significant needs for local families during the economic struggles of 2020 brought on by the pandemic. The Hope Team offers services to repair and restore local community members’ homes. A newly formed foster care ministry has been formed through partnerships with Hope Fort Worth and CASA. Teams from Pathway regularly go to Rio Bravo, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Ethiopia where they partner with people within the countries.
Even within the walls though is ministry to the community in nontraditional church ways. The community is invited and welcomed to use Pathway’s facilities. On any weekday you might see an event held by the Chamber of Commerce, local sports leagues practicing on fields, Boy Scouts holding their meetings, and outside parachurch organizations congregating. Paul Keese, the Business Manager of Pathway, explains why this is by simply saying “we don’t own this” while spreading his arm to take in the large campus. Any resource of Pathway is used with the purpose of reaching out to more people, to bring in “one more.” Keese stressed how important this was to Pathway as they designed and constructed the new worship center.
As you drive on Interstate 35 in Burleson, particularly when you turn to get on Wilshire Boulevard, look to the west into Burleson. You will see the lit cross that will lead to the Pathway campus. As they shine their light on the city of Burleson, neighboring communities, and this world, the people of Pathway continue to point to God. Their demonstrations of love, and proclamation of truth, continues to reach “one more.”