About Our Church
In 1954 a group of Seventh-day Adventists living in Johnson County dreamed of establishing a new church in their fast growing community. The Johnson County Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized on September 3, 1955, with F.O. Sanders, Conference President, and Marcus Payne, Pastor, officiating. Eighty charter members began a journey that continues today.
In 1956 the church bought ten acres of property at 87th Street and Riggs from KCTY Television for $24,000. Hard work and sacrifice led to a 30 by 100 foot addition to the existing building in 1957. The church members emphasized the importance of Christian education, and as a result a ten grade school opened in September of 1957 even before the new addition was completed. The school started with three teachers and forty-eight students.
The members desired that their church and school would be a haven for those seeking God’s truth, so at the suggestion of Cliff Erhart, the church and school were named New Haven in 1958. Cliff also helped with the first baptisms. Since the church did not have a baptistery, he bought a cattle tank that was used for baptisms for several years.
The vision of New Haven’s early members did not stop with a church school. The congregation also saw the need for a medical center in Johnson County. In 1960 the Health Center was opened, and became Shawnee Mission Hospital in 1962. Today, Shawnee Mission Medical Center employs many church members, has been ranked in the top 100 hospitals in the nation and has received numerous awards.
With the success of the school, the hospital and the outreach to the community, the growing congregation developed plans for a new church. The members worshiped in the newly constructed church for the first time on October 30, 1965. The church and its furnishings cost approximately $110,000.
The church’s vision for growth and sharing the gospel has led to two church plants in Kansas City. The New Life Community Church of Seventh-day Adventists in Olathe was organized in 1970, and the West Lenexa Seventh-day Adventist Church was planted in 1991. New Haven’s church school was renamed Midland Adventist School and opened in a new facility in Shawnee in 1981. In 1998 Midland expanded to a twelve grade academy. Today Midland Adventist Academy serves about 150 students. Continuing its support of Christian education New Haven commits nearly 50% of the church’s budget to the academy.
The pioneering spirit of the charter members continues. In the mid 1990’s New Haven outgrew its facilities and more space was desperately needed. A planning committee drafted a master plan for growth. Blue prints were created to expand the church at 8841 Glenwood and members sacrificed to raise funds, but God had other plans. In 2002 enthusiastic members purchased the former Cherokee Elementary School on 8714 Antioch, New Haven’s current location. This facility provided more space for Sabbath School rooms and new ministries while worship services were held in the gymnasium.
Tired of looking at basketball hoops, the church’s most aggressive building project culminated with a 700 seat sanctuary connected to the original building. Over 840 members and visitors worshiped the Lord in the new sanctuary for the first time on November 19, 2005. The total cost of the campus and new sanctuary reached almost 5 million dollars.
New Haven’s passion for ministry in the past inspired more dreams today. The congregation presents a wonderful diversity of nationalities including Russian, Portuguese, Native American and several African nations to name only a few. The many cultures that are represented every Sabbath illustrate the worldwide appeal of the unique Adventist message. An English as a Second Language class began in 1997, and this group eventually started a Spanish-speaking worship service with more than 60 members who came together each Sabbath for worship in New Haven's Spanish Chapel. In 2008, this group of Christians formed a brand new Seventh-day Adventist Company, on its way to becoming a new SDA church. Visit the New Haven Spanish Web site to learn about the exciting growth and activities taking place.
A broad range of ministries currently function in the church including health ministries, fellowship meals, socials, young adults, Pathfinders, drama and a music ministry. In 1996 New Haven continued its focus on the coming generations by hiring its first youth pastor. Today the youth ministry under the leadership of Chanda Nunes is still a thriving part of the life of the church with teens leading out in worship on Youth Sabbaths every month. New Haven has found a variety of ways to reach out to the community. Hundreds of visitors enjoyed Safe Haven, the church’s alternative to Halloween. In 2004 over sixteen hundred people came to New Haven to tour a life sized replica of the Old Testament Sanctuary. Church members are even conducting Revelation Seminars. New Haven also supports a 5K walk and run every year to help the homeless in Kansas City through the City Union Mission.
Changed lives, exciting growth and passionate ministries all testify to God’s blessing on the New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church. From 80 original, dedicated members, now more than 700 people hold membership at New Haven. Knowing Jesus and sharing His love and the good news of His soon return continues to be the reason for the church’s existence.
A new chapter opened for New Haven in the spring of 2005 when Pastor Michael Halfhill transitioned from serving as the youth pastor to become the church’s first associate pastor. Three ministers now serve the congregation with a new senior pastor soon to join the congregation (to be announced soon). The inspiration of a dream and dedicated service have brought us to this moment. Where will the Lord lead us next? The future will answer that question. The Holy Spirit provided visionary ideas that began this church and led it through the years. The Spirit continues to lead today. Let us follow our Father as He guides us to reach out to our world with the gospel until Jesus Christ returns to take us to our heavenly home.
May the New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church become not only what we dream for the future, but what Jesus dreams for us.