New ministry in Cape Girardeau catering specifically to south side of town

Ben Porter leads a worship service at Gateway Church. (Source: KFVS)
Ben Porter leads a worship service at Gateway Church. (Source: KFVS)
Members of the community worship at Gateway Church. (Source: KFVS)
Members of the community worship at Gateway Church. (Source: KFVS)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Ben Porter grew up in a south Cape Girardeau neighborhood.

"In this house, the lady adopted me," said Porter.

Porter reflected back on the home where he spent his adolescence.

He is forever grateful for the foster mother who rescued him from abuse and neglect, and gave him hope for the future.

"I felt like I belonged, then I started to flourish," said Porter.

He did what many young people do: he left town.

He got married and eventually ended up in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Rose.

They had no plans to leave, until both Ben and Rose felt a supernatural pull to leave their lives on the east coast.

"There was an itch because I knew I going to do something different," said Porter.

After 25 years, the Porter's felt lead to come home to southeast Missouri.

Recent shootings and other acts of violence in Ben's old neighborhood weighed heavy on their hearts.

"A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine I went to high school with, his nephew was killed right here on this street, this corner," said Ben Porter as he stood pointing the exact spot on Ellis Street. "I have a heart to help people in the community to show there's a better way. It doesn't have to be the wild, wild west."

The Porter's are starting something new.

They are the driving force behind Gateway Church, a ministry catering specifically to Cape's south side.

The style is urban-contemporary, with a service time of about an hour and fifteen minutes.

"Our music is not going to be traditional, and the way I speak won't be traditional," said Pastor Ben Porter. "I might break dance. We might have a whole hip-hop praise and worship service. I want this next generation."

The Porter's have been hitting the streets with volunteers.

They are trying to find out what the needs are in the community.

They spent a lot of time knocking on doors asking people what they think.

Many of them would like to see more opportunities for children and young adults.

Others are worried about safety.

One man Pastor Ben spoke with said there is a big problem with 'kids and guns'. That community member said he is afraid for his own grandchildren.

The Porter's hope to show this community love and understanding.

"It doesn't matter what they've done or where they came from or what's been done to them," said Pastor Ben. "We want to help them understand they are important and they should have value and a role to play."

They have held two church services so far. In the last service, they had 85 people attend.

Those who came say they believe now is the time for change.

"There are kids,16-year-olds, who have lost their lives to violence," said one woman who came to the first church service. "It takes us all to tell people there still is hope."

Another man came because he believes the community needs healing.

"Especially our generation, people younger than myself they need a place to go where there's love, you know."

Whether it's in the church or on the streets, the Porter's hope to see big improvements.

"This neighborhood needs a civic center," said Pastor Ben. "We're going to make this community alive again."

Pastor Ben plans to take the information he gathered from the community to city leaders, to talk about what can be done to enhance the south side.

Gateway Church meets monthly at 10:30 a.m. at the Shawnee Park Center in Cape Girardeau.

The next service is on December 4, 2016.

They will start weekly services beginning March 26, 2017.

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