In a community where some church histories stretch back over 100 years, NewHaven Church of Lawton is the fresh-faced youngster on the block. Founded in 2010, the church is preparing to celebrate its 10-year anniversary this year.
“You can think of the life of a church as the life of a person, when you’re young you are still trying to figure out how to do things,” said Chad Fetzer, the church’s senior pastor. “As a smaller church with more limited resources … it didn’t make a lot of sense for us to recreate ministries that a lot of others were already doing really well.”
While many churches have food banks and clothes closets that they invest their time and resources into, Fetzer wanted to find a way to leverage his church’s smaller size into an established ministry as a way of giving back to the community.
“The things we wanted to have a hand in ministering to were hunger, homelessness, children, the military and health care. With that in mind we started trying to think about who was already doing those things really well,” Fetzer said.
It was the beginning of the church’s Annual Partnerships program, which sees the church partner with local charities and nonprofits throughout the year.
“I had a friend once who said, ‘no logo, no ego,’ “Fetzer said. “We are able to be a part of these ministries and our logo isn’t on the top, so there is no ego involved. We can just get things done.”
Over the years, Fetzer estimates that NewHaven has given around $50,000 to the organizations involved with their Annual Partnerships, which include Family Promise of Lawton, Lawton Food Bank and Christian Family Counseling, among others.
But the contribution is more than just financial. Members of the church volunteer their time with organizations from the annual partnerships. From repainting rooms for Family Promise to restocking the shelves of the Lawton Food Bank, the congregation takes a hands-on approach to their partnerships.
“We give to some foreign missions and those more typical evangelical things, but we also wanted to be able to release our resources into our community. That’s the example we are given as Christians,” Fetzer said.
Fetzer has seen first-hand how his church’s partnership has impacted community organizations. He recalled a conversation with the director of Family Promise that brought him in contact with a family who was staying in one of the rooms his congregation had painted. The family had been homeless for several months but was preparing to move into stable housing.
“I think that is really cool. I’m glad to be a part of that. But also, I know that there is no way we could have accomplished that on our own,” Fetzer said.
This year, the church will once again select up to six organizations to partner with through their program. Fetzer expects the church to donate around $5,000 through the program.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Fetzer said.