Press "Enter" to skip to content

‘We want to be an extension of the love of Christ’

“There’s no place like home,” is not just the tagline for the 1939 film of “The Wizard of Oz.”

It’s the general feeling of the 50 members who comprise The Way Church of Joliet, which moved into its current 3,000 square-foot space at 3021 Theodore St in Joliet in the fall of 2021.

But before the build-out began, the prayer ministry team had an idea.

During the church’s first prayer service in the building, members wrote scripture verses on the bare floor before workers covered it with flooring material, said the Rev. Edward L. Winfrey Jr., church pastor.

During The Way Church of Joliet's first prayer service in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet, members wrote scripture verses on the bare floor. Rev. Edward L. Winfrey Jr., church pastor, is pictured in the foreground.

During The Way Church of Joliet’s first prayer service in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet, members wrote scripture verses on the bare floor. The Rev. Edward L. Winfrey Jr., church pastor, is pictured in the foreground. (Photo courtesy of The Way Church of Joliet/)

“So we are not only spiritually standing on the word of God, but also literally,” Winfrey said. “When we are in the building, we are standing on God’s word.”

The congregation faced up to the COVID pandemic, and came out whole.

The Way Church of Joliet launched on April 14, 2014, at Trinity Christian School in Shorewood. Its initial name was The Church of Joliet, and it was the sister church of The Church of Bolingbrook, pastored by the Rev. Calvin Quarles.

Winfrey, who is Joliet-raised, educated and spiritually formed – the former St. Joseph Parish School, Joliet Central High School and Mount Zion Baptist Church – was formally initiated into ministry when he became Mount’s Zion’s youth pastor, a position Winfrey held for about eight years, Winfrey said in a 2014 Herald-News story.

Following the launch, The Way Church of Joliet met at the Joliet Township District 204 administration building at 300 Caterpillar Drive in Joliet, where the church continued to hold services until “something called [COVID-19] happened,” Winfrey said.

Members of The Way Church of Joliet celebrate its eighth anniversary in April 2022 in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet. Pictured is Andre Thompson, worship team leader, on keyboards, and Kyler Winfrey on drums.

Members of The Way Church of Joliet celebrate its eighth anniversary in April 2022 in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet. Pictured is Andre Thompson, worship team leader, on keyboards, and Kyler Winfrey on drums. (Photo courtesy of The Way Church of Joliet/)

But in the months before the pandemic, the church was ready for a place to call home. A permanent space would eliminate the weekly setting up and taking down and provide opportunities for expanding ministries and holding special events, Winfrey said.

“We loved our time with District 204,” Winfrey said. “But we thought we should consider getting or looking for another place, just to be able to have more accessibility to come and go as we please.”

A space to call home

The Way Church of Joliet switched to Zoom services in the early days of the pandemic and used the time-off from coordinating in-person services to look for a new church home.

The church wound up renting two empty spaces on Theodore Street, which is comparable in size to the space the church used at the administration center.

Members of The Way Church of Joliet celebrate its eighth anniversary in April 2022 in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet.

Members of The Way Church of Joliet celebrate its eighth anniversary in April 2022 in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet. (Photo courtesy of The Way Church of Joliet/)

After hiring a contractor, the church converted the space into four rooms, including two office rooms and a meeting area for youth activities, Winfrey said.

“It’s not huge, but for our congregation, it’s very suitable right now,” Winfrey said. “Our prayer is that eventually we would be able to secure or purchase a building of our own.”

The Way of Joliet Church held its first service in the new space on Oct. 17 2021, and its eighth anniversary on April 10, where members surprised him with a gift: a new podium with The Way Church of Joliet inscribed on it, he said.

The Way of Church of Joliet held its eighth anniversary on Sunday, April 10, 2022, where members suprised their pastor Rev. Edward L. Winfrey Jr. with a gift: a new podium with The Way Church of Joliet inscribed on it. Winfrey's wife Michelle is also pictured.

The Way of Church of Joliet held its eighth anniversary on Sunday, April 10, 2022, where members suprised their pastor Rev. Edward L. Winfrey Jr. with a gift: a new podium with The Way Church of Joliet inscribed on it. Winfrey’s wife Michelle is also pictured. (Photo courtesy of The Way Church of Joliet/)

After months of Zoom, Winfrey said that first in-person service “was amazing” – although some members do still connect with services on Zoom, he said.

“There’s something about people coming physically together and worshipping God that you just can’t replicate in a virtual setting,” Winfrey said.

Members of The Way Church of Joliet celebrate its eighth anniversary in April 2022 in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet.

Members of The Way Church of Joliet celebrate its eighth anniversary in April 2022 in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet. (Photo courtesy of The Way Church of Joliet/)

Winfrey said The Way of Church of Joliet is also hoping to return to in-person outreach very soon, such as its monthly services to the residents of Marycrest Village in Joliet.

Current church ministries include discipleship development, inspirational development and youth ministry, according to the church’s website.

The church also plans to connect with its neighbors and anyone who doesn’t yet have a church home. Feedback Winfrey said he often hears about The Way Church of Joliet is that people “feel at home. They feel the love of God.”

“That’s what we want them to feel,” Winfrey said. “We want to be an extension of the love of Christ.”

For information, visit thewaychurchjoliet.org.

During The Way Church of Joliet's first prayer service in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet, members wrote scripture verses on the bare floor.

During The Way Church of Joliet’s first prayer service in its new space on Theodore Street in Joliet, members wrote scripture verses on the bare floor. (Photo courtesy of The Way Church of Joliet/)

Source: The Daily Chronicle

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: