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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Way

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As he reflects on two decades of community and ministry service Rev. James C. Anyike considers the impact of his latest assignment as pastor of The Way, a new church.

The church’s facility, located in a near Eastside office building, includes Anyike’s office and an adjoining room. Along with several rows of chairs the cozy room contains a large wooden cross as well as several African furnishings and art.

A table decorated with kinte cloth supports a set of communion plates and a new stereo. For Anyike, this setup is symbolic of the church’s balance of traditional worship and the informal contemporary style that is attractive to many people looking for a church home.

“We value an attention to lack of formality so that anyone will be comfortable enough to worship and fellowship here,” Anyike says as the gospel music of Karen Clark-Shreard radiates gently from the stereo. “We are however, serious about God, who he is and the plan he has for us.”

Anyike (pronounced ahn-YEE-kay) and several individuals already committed to The Way will officially launch the congregation during a special celebration this Sunday that will feature national and local gospel performers.

The Way is a congregation sponsored by the United Methodist Church denomination, which is promoting it as the city’s first “African centered” church. Special emphasis will be placed on upholding African traditions such as honoring elders and conducting rites of passage, celebrating African-American holidays like Kwanzaa, studying the true ethnicity of biblical figures and worshipping in ways that reflect current cultural trends in the Black church.

Michael J. Coyner, bishop of the Indiana area of the United Methodist Church, noted that the state is becoming increasingly diverse, and Methodists strongly believe that their denomination needs new congregations to reach new people.

“Although we have several other very faithful and effective African-American congregations in Indianapolis, The Way will reach out to new people and provide a new place for them to belong, worship and serve,” Coyner said.

Anyike believes The Way will be different from many established African-American (not African centered) congregations, which he says are known for formality, a strict order of worship and distance between pastors and members.

“If you’re looking for a church with perfect people and you consider yourself a perfect person then this is not the church for you,” Anyike said. “This is a church for folk who are just serious about wanting to know God.”

Anyike is no stranger to the area, having already served as an associate pastor at two congregations here. Bishop Coyner asked Anyike to lead The Way in July, realizing that his experience in starting new ministries and commitment to the African style of worship made him the right choice to be pastor.

“I am confident James will do an excellent job, and in fact he has already been working hard to develop this ministry,” Coyner said.

Contrary to popular belief, Anyike was not born in Africa and is a Chicago native. He grew in the rough Cabrini Green projects and attended one of the city’s toughest schools. Strong guidance from parents and the church, he said, kept him and his seven brothers and sisters all on a path to success in their careers.

Anyike would like to share the kind of positive values he learned by keeping The Way involved in the community and reaching out to youth with a resource center, drill team, African dance team and a youth choir.

“We surveyed many individuals and many of them said our priority should be to uplift youth,” said Anyike. “We want to develop a worship atmosphere that any age group would appreciate, but particularly young people.”

The Way is located at 2511 E. 46th Street in Suite K-4. For more information call (317) 529-3768 or send an e-mail to anyike@netscape.net.

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