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Dr. Jordan Cox Plants Church for College Students on MBU’s Campus

For the first time in the school’s history, Missouri Baptist University hosts a church geared toward college students, called College Park Church, which began meeting weekly on campus Aug. 23, 2020, and this summer approaches its one-year anniversary.

Myranda Kenshalo, Nathanael Pezzo and Lindsey Peters are part of the College Park Church worship team that lead the congregation on Sundays.      Photo by Madisyn House

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From “love your neighbor as you love yourself” to “don’t count the days, make the days count,” most have a motto that defines how they approach life. For Dr. Jordan Cox, that motto is, “Gather, Grow, Go,” the strategy of the newly planted College Park Church, which meets on the campus of Missouri Baptist University.

Cox, who is College Park Church’s pastor, and his wife, Kasey Cox, are both professors in MBU’s Fine Arts Division, and they felt called to help start a church for MBU’s students. 

“With both of us being professors, we also noticed a lot of our students struggling to connect to the local church,” said Dr. Cox, who has been on faculty at MBU since 2015 and now serves as chair of the Fine Arts Division. “We really feel like that is a really important part of a Christian’s life, to be connected to the local church. For a variety of reasons, it takes a lot of effort from students to go out of their comfort zone and find a church.”

Dr. Jordan Cox preaches on Sunday morning at College Park Church.    Photo by Madisyn House

This helped the Coxes decide they wanted to plant a church that would be convenient for college students right on their college campus. 

Planting a church doesn’t come without its fair share of trials. There is an immense amount of work and training required in order to go through the process of planting a new church.

This includes having a sending church, in this instance Fellowship of Wildwood, and going through a program conducted by the Southern Baptist Convention. 

“Having a sending church is both affirming and encouraging,” said Dr. Cox. “They serve as an anchor when planting involves so many unknowns. Their elders serve as a guide to support us and it gives us a body of believers who are walking alongside us as we take leaps of faith.”

Nathanael Pezzo plays the keyboard for the worship team at College Park Church.     Photo by Kamryn Bell

However, after many months of hard work and preparation, College Park Church successfully launched on Aug. 23, 2020.

While the leadership team expected low attendance at first, they were happily overwhelmed when the congregation began and consistently stayed at around 50 people each week. 

I would definitely recommend at least visiting CPC,” said Lindsey Peters, a senior theatre major from O’Fallon, Missouri, who is a part of the church’s worship team. “I think it is important for people to feel a part of the body of Christ and CPC is such a great example of what people can do when they work together. The leadership is also amazing and always seeking truth and making sure what they share is truthful and applicable.”

The congregation of College Park Church is filled with people who care about each other and their church. Many members volunteer in any way they can, even if it is not convenient.

“The community is really good there,” said Mikayla Williams, sophomore nursing major from High Ridge, Missouri. “I notice that a lot of people stay and help clean up even if they aren’t working.”

 

Myranda Kenshalo, Kristianna Dilworth, Andrea Robb and Ansley Little lead worship on Sundays at College Park Church.     Photo by Madisyn House

Myranda Kenshalo, a senior ministry and leadership major at MBU, is the worship coordinator at College Park Church.     Photo by Kamryn Bell

The church has had a consistent congregation, which is a positive sign, indicating that people keep coming back to worship at College Park Church, which meets in the lobby of the Carl and Deloris Petty Sports and Recreation Center, or sometimes outside on the patio when the weather is nice.

“I love the Biblical-based teachings and the community atmosphere that encourages students my age to attend with me,” MBU student and regular church attendee, Zander Smith, a sophomore criminal justice and chemistry major from Independence, Iowa, said in a text. 

There are two major aspects of the church that make College Park Church stand out to its congregation: the Biblical foundation and the close-knit community. These are the primary goals of the church plant. 

“I would encourage all college students to at least try the church,” said Myranda Kenshalo, College Park Church’s worship coordinator, a senior majoring in ministry and leadership with a worship studies minor, from Wayne City, Illinois. “Everyone has different needs, everyone has different preferences. That doesn’t change no matter where you go. But at College Park, since it is aimed at students mainly, you’re going to be loved, you’re going to be accepted, and you’re going to be told truth, and you will be supported in every part of your life.”

Cox baptizes Grace Covington, an MBU student who attends College Park Church.     Photo by Madisyn House

College Park Church has the support of other professors at MBU and members of Fellowship of Wildwood. Dr. Mark Grossmann, a member of Fellowship of Wildwood and Bible instructor at MBU, serves as an elder of College Park Church, along with his wife, MJ. 

“It is biblically based,” said Dr. Grossmann. “I would say there are pastors and people who will love you. I would say the members there are really sincere followers and lovers of Jesus.” 

For more information, students can reach out to Pastors Jordan Cox and Lance Leonard at Jordan@collegeparkstl.org and Lance@collegeparkstl.org or visit the church’s website at collegeparkstl.org.

–Ethan King contributed to this story.

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Madisyn House

Madisyn House

Madi House is a staff writer, photographer and editor for MBU Timeline. She is a born and raised St. Louis girl who is majoring in communications studies and minoring in worship studies. House owns her own photography business, MJ Photography, and writes for her own blog, keepgrowin.wordpress.com. Along with working on these platforms, she loves to spend time singing and playing her guitar and ukulele. She works as a social media intern for a non-profit and a writing coach in MBU’s Student Success Center.

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