Parkway Church grew out of the First Baptist Church in 1992 and has gradually turned to the future, capturing young worshipers with modern methods while sticking to biblical truth, their senior pastor said on Tuesday.
Parkway Church began in the Victoria Mall where the Victoria Police Service substation is now located. The church started on January 5, 1992, with 10 families who wanted to “plant a church in the north.”
There is now a church with multiple campuses — the main church on John Stockbaurer Drive as well as others on Lone Tree Road and in Port Lavaca — and hundreds of members, senior pastor Mike Hurt said. But it all started at the mall.
“This church even held Sunday school classes in the food court,” Hurt said. “The mall walkers were walking and the church was doing church.”
Sunday’s birthday services began with upbeat praise music and a request for people to register for the service by scanning the QR code found on the day’s bulletin. Four QR codes adorned the four-page post, inviting attendees to find a faith group to engage with, study the day’s message with additional resources, and “worship by giving.”
No collection basket has been distributed to this service. Just scan a tithe – the future is now at Parkway.
The church offers services at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., but the party started later in the day at 5:30 p.m. and was attended by between 500 and 600 people, Hurt said.
The theme for the anniversary celebration was “Party Like It’s 1992” and featured a hilarious attempt by a young church member to use a walkman and rotary phone. As he struggled in his duties, an older member of the church tried to solve the enigma that is the textual language of the younger generations.
The word “sus” appeared on a screen behind her at some point. She had a questioning look until someone took pity and shouted, “Suspect!” Then “flex” was on the big screen at which she shrugged and was told it meant “bragging”.
The audience laughed and bounced two giant beach balls around the room while carrying glow sticks and streamers.
Earlier in the day, during normally scheduled services, Hurt explained Luke 7:36-47: the story of a woman of ill repute who entered the house of a Pharisee where Jesus was visiting. A Pharisee was a virtuous member of an ancient Jewish sect.
The woman, probably a sex worker, knelt down and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and perfumed them from a rich alabaster pot.
The Pharisee passed judgment on the woman and was shocked that Jesus would allow such a woman to touch him.
Jesus told a parable in which a man forgives the debts of two men. One owed 500 denarii, the other 50. Jesus asked, “Which of them will love him most?”
His sins have been forgiven, says Jesus. And in what she did for Jesus, she showed great love.
Hurt said Parkway Church is there for the “500,” the people who need forgiveness the most.
“I’m a 500,” he said. Then pointing to the people gathered in the church, he said, “You are a 500.”
“We want to reach people and then see them connect in the community, whether it’s in a small group or in a place to serve,” Hurt said Tuesday.
Parkway Church moves with the times, Hurt said, adapting to changing technology and different types of music, for example.
“We will never change the message, but we always change the method,” Hurt said.
Parkway Church stays true to the message in the Bible, he said, but does not get bogged down in outdated church traditions.
A relaxed atmosphere greets people inside the church — it’s comfortable. People are invited to come as they are. No need to get carried away for this sanctuary. Hurt said they didn’t want dress requirements to discourage believers.
The church’s Sunday bulletin says Parkway has done four things all these years: connecting people to God and each other, growing spiritually by loving God, serving others to share the love and message of Jesus, and worshiping Jesus by a faithful life and generous gifts.
And, they have been there for three decades.