We are working every day to write new history with The Kirk, but we have been working at that for quite a few years. We try to worship and learn and teach authentically in the Presbyterian Tradition. We have been working at it since The Kirk was formed in 1957 by an adventurous group of people.
One of your first questions might be about our name. Our official name–the John Knox Presbyterian Kirk– has a unique history. When our neighborhood was developed, it was called “Glen Arbor,” suggesting a Scottish heritage. For Presbyterians, John Knox was an important reformer from Scotland; he founded the first Presbyterian churches there. When this church was formed, our first members wanted to honor John Knox’s work. “Kirk” is simply the Scottish word for “church,” so we added that to the name, reinforcing these Scottish connections. Today we simply refer to ourselves as “The Kirk”.
Our church building has undergone several changes. By 1961, the adventurous founding members of the Kirk had built a humble building at our current location. It was a small, rectangular room where we met for worship. Church school and meetings were in the office, next door in the home of our first Pastor. In 1969, the building was expanded to include our unique circular sanctuary. As our neighborhood continued to grow around us, our building also grew. The Kirk, as it exists today, was completed in 1989.
Over the years, we have worked to be a presence in our South Kansas City community through authentic relationships and meaningful service. In 1978 we established our relationship with Alpha Montessori preschool. Generations of students have graced our building with their presence. In the 1990s, we started a relationship with the Center School District. Through our Peacemaking Award at Center Middle School, we began recognizing those students who show a loving and caring attitude to their fellow students. Over 140 students have been recognized as peacemakers among their peers.
Through community efforts such as Habitat House partnerships, working with refugees, serving at food banks, supporting the Center schools, and homeless transition projects, we continue to emphasize serving and outreach. We focus on learning about Jesus, and trying to live the way of Jesus the best we can. We continue a legacy of inclusive, welcoming community that was founded over 60 years ago. By asking new question, we are learning how we can become a people of justice, compassion, and love for years to come.