WILKES-BARRE — The roof needs work on the building where Dan Nichols and Tim Walker are pastors, but that’s not how they came up with the name of the Restored Church.
They are more focused on people’s lives than with replacing shingles on the space they’re renting. The duo will hold a grand opening at 1o:30 a.m. Sunday at the former First United Methodist Church of Wilkes-Barre on North Franklin Street.
Their growing following is a mix of young and old, homeless and well-to-do, newcomers and those turned off by the scandals of organized religion, all hurt and beaten down in some way and receptive to the message delivered by the pair, they said.
“The reason we named the church ‘Restored’ is that we believe that people can have a restored relationship with God,” said Nichols. “The relationship is broken by sin, but Jesus came and so the relationship can be fixed again through faith in Jesus.”
Nichols, 25, and Walker, 24, graduated from Baptist Bible College and spent three years in preparation, learning from the leaders of the Steamtown Church in Scranton.Part of their outreach has been phone calls, mass mailings and billboard advertising.
They looked elsewhere before deciding on Wilkes-Barre and are certain there is a need for the Evangelical Protestant church they’re opening, they said. “Wilkes Barre is a hurting city,” Nichols said. “If we have light in Christ, why would we burn our light in a room full of lights.”
The two have been meeting with people in much smaller residential settings where they share a meal followed by a Scripture discussion. They’ve been meeting at houses in Wilkes-Barre, Forty Fort and Mountain Top. The food and community have drawn scores of people, they said.
“People really appreciate that their opinion is valued and they appreciate that they don’t just have to sit and listen,” said Walker. “They appreciate that people give them an opportunity to share what’s going on in their lives. The people care about that and they’re also able to ask questions and really wrestle through what the Bible says.”
People who attend the house churches are encouraged to go to the Sunday morning gathering as well, to make the experience complete.
There will be music and Scripture and a “grace story” delivered by someone who’s experienced God’s grace and mercy, Nichols said. “So we’re tying to show people like this isn’t just a theoretical impersonal kind of a deist thing where God’s out there somewhere,” he said. “No. He is active in our lives and he is real.”