Linwood Presbyterian Church has been a part of the Ivanhoe neighborhood and Kansas City since 1890. With its founding ministry to bring Sunday School to children outside the city limits, the church steadily grew to over 2,000 congregants dedicated to Christ’s mission to transform lives by bringing support and hope to people in need.
From its earliest days, Linwood Presbyterian focused on community ministries. In 1917, a home was established for girls with disabilities, followed by an impressive list of outreach services — from a convalescent home for poor and working women in 1929 to a well-baby clinic and drug-counseling clinic in the 1960’s to a day care and Head Start program for neighborhood children in the 1970’s.
As the neighborhood changed in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, Linwood Presbyterian church responded; adapting to meet the needs of its community.
In 1971, Rev. Harold Thomas came to Linwood Presbyterian church. Having grown up in Bermuda, away from the race relation issues in the U. S., Rev. Thomas was uniquely equipped to lead a largely white congregation through a tumultuous time. He joked “I add a little color to the place.” Along with the visionary leadership of Reverend Hans Frick, a German who served in World War II, and Reverend William Ryan, Linwood energized and further expanded the scope of its ministries, including creating the Presbyterian Cooperative Service to serve the Linwood neighborhood.
In 1975, following a long decline in membership, the church merged to become Linwood United. The Linwood church building was sold and sat abandoned for many years, although what is now known as the Harold Thomas Center for Reconciliation continued to operate as the home to critical community ministries, for many years directed by Rev. Bill Johnson, the retired pastor of Linwood United.
In 1995, with strong support from the community, Heartland Presbytery made a bold decision to buy back the vacated church and created Linwood Property, Inc. to undertake its redevelopment.
The redevelopment project has come to be known as Linwood Area Ministry Place, or LAMP. From the outset, LAMP has been a ministry of presence, service, and leadership. By reinvesting in this site, the Presbytery has made a strong commitment to be a permanent, positive presence in a distressed area. As a ministry of service, LAMP will create a campus of service ministries to meet urgent human needs. And as a ministry of leadership, LAMP brings church and community resources together to be a catalyst for restoration of the surrounding community.
LAMP will house the midtown operations of ReDiscover, one of the region’s most important mental health service providers, and Front Porch Alliance, a Presbyterian led community partnership providing youth and neighborhood services in the Ivanhoe area, as well as other community services and ministries.
The initial phase of redevelopment includes the adaptive reuse of the former sanctuary structure built in 1923, as well as the adjacent Harold Thomas Center and site improvements. The project is being financed through a combination of historic preservation and New Markets Tax Credits and a bank loan secured by tenant rents for a combined financing package of some $10 million.
In addition, LAMP is seeking $1.2 million in donations to ensure rents remain affordable to the non-profit tenants and to augment the construction budget. Area foundations have already made major grants to the project, and the Marty Singleton Family has made an extraordinary commitment of $200,000 to inspire and leverage gifts from Heartland Presbytery congregations, organizations and individuals.
That’s where you come in. We need your help to meet this challenge. Please make a donation—as a congregation and as an individual–to continue the legacy of Linwood Presbyterian Church. Your gift will transform one of Kansas City’s most visible landmarks into a vibrant campus of service and cooperative ministries, adding momentum to the resurgence of the Ivanhoe neighborhood. More important, your gift will ensure we continue the foundational mission of Linwood—to transform lives by bringing support and hope to people in need.