Legacy Church, the newest faith congregation in Davenport’s west end, hopes to be a good neighbor to the surrounding community.

The growing group of believers held their first service a few weeks ago.

The non denominational church represents a fresh identity for the historic brick building that served as St. Joseph’s Catholic Church from 1883-1999. The interior is painted a soft cream and worshippers enjoy light refreshments before finding spiritual nourishment during the 9:30 a.m. service, Sunday morning. The altar, embellished with visual reminders of heaven, reminds people of the days when services there were held in Latin.

“Architecturally, the church is an amazing facility. Hopefully we’re looking at some grants to restore the chapel and reuse the bells which were forged in the late 1800s,” said church member Cory Smith of Davenport.

Foremost on people’s minds is reaching the community around them. “Legacy is not a Lone Ranger. The church is not separate from the community but it becomes part of the community,” said the Rev. Doug Reynolds, pastor. “I think Legacy is about a respect for the people who live there, regardless of their financial circumstances, regardless of their spiritual development.”

The vision of creating a church there began last year by Keith Nester and his wife, Estelle. They passed the leadership of the lay-based ministry on to a board of elders.

Reynolds has a background in inner city ministry at Grace United Methodist Church, Davenport, and his work history includes being a consultant for church growth and intervention. During his time at Grace, the church set up the “Purple Shirt People” ministry where volunteers give kids drinks of water at the Davenport skate park.

Now Reynolds is eager to see what new opportunities arise at Legacy. Between 70 to 80 people attend Sunday services and youngsters have Sunday School classes and nursery in the former convent.

A goal is to help residents feel empowered over tough circumstances. The church wants to help these people learn how to be fiscally responsible and

children understand about fiscal literacy, Reynolds said.

“Legacy is a place where we’re trying to free victims from that victim mentality,” he said. “Jesus didn’t have a dominator mentality, he said we are all equal.”

The church hopes to work with existing organizations such as John Lewis Community Service, the Sisters of Humility and next door neighbor Marquette Academy and create more opportunities for west end residents, he said.

About 100 kids showed up the day before Easter for an egg hunt and the “On the House” clothing closet is a popular place for people looking for clothing items. The closet is open 10 a.m. to noon, Mondays; 5-7 p.m., Tuesdays; and 10 a.m. to noon, the first and third Saturdays of the month. The church offers “Celebrate Recovery” meetings at 7:30 p.m., Tuesdays.

Certainly the location offers a few challenges. The congregation is working to equip all of the buildings, including Marquette Academy, with a geothermal system to defray costs of heating and cooling. And there isn’t a lot of parking on the site at 6th and Marquette streets.

But Smith and his wife, Michelle, are enthused about being part of a vital ministry. “It’s been a lot of work so far to get enough of a facility that we can use,” he said. “Mainly the reason why we wanted to go down there was to give back. It’s definitely a hurting area.”

Legacy Church is located at 601 Marquette St., and the On the House clothing closet at 615 Marquette St., both Davenport.

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