Scott Obremski didn’t dream of starting a church.
He had a secure job on staff at the 10,000-member James River Assembly in Springfield, Mo. He’d lived there 17 years, has a wife, Jen and two children, Cruz, 3 and Titus, 1.
He was happy.
It was a jolt, then, when Obremski was on vacation in Florida and he felt God talking to him.
He said he had the impression God wanted him to start a new church. After about a year of prayer and preparation, he brought his family to Lee’s Summit.
This weekend is the launch of Summit Park Church, which will meet in Harris Park Community Center, at 10 a.m. Sept. 15.
The back story
Obremski, 35, grew up in Detroit, where his father had a janitorial service.
“I cleaned a lot of windows and scrubbed a lot of floors,” he said.
His whole family, while attending Catholic Church, had undergone a spiritual experience where they found a new connection with God.
For his family, then, going to church had been a routine.
“What you did, not necessarily a personal relationship with Jesus,” Obremski said.
A family crisis changed that. His uncle was involved in a bad drug deal and went on the run, afraid for his life. While hiding out, his uncle went to a Bible study, was converted and returned home, a changed man without fear.
Obremski’s mother, seeing his transformation, also started going to a Bible study, then found a new church. His father joined her.
“We were in church all of the time,” Obremski said.
Obremski had been an ornery child attending Catholic school, often in the principal’s office.
“I was a wicked little second grader, I gave the nuns fits,” he said.
Soon he’d be following his parent’s example. One Sunday, he realized he didn’t have an relationship with God and answered the alter call. It changed his life.
“I began living for Jesus and God began to change me,” he said.
Three younger sisters also grew stronger in the faith, he said.
Obremski said during the rest of his youth he avoided harmful experiences and attended Central Bible College in Springfield. He went to James River Assembly, starting as a volunteer, but joined the staff. Working there 13 years, he started a college-age ministry training program, and for the last four years served as director of worship and preached.
Moving to Kansas City
Obremski flew back from his vacation to Kansas City International Airport, and while driving back to Springfield one U.S. 71, he said he felt drawn to Kansas City area. It had an appeal, he said, of being urban and multi-cultural, like home in Detroit.
In the months following as he prayed about the decision, he said it seemed like Kansas City came up in every conversation. While looking around the area, he visited Lee’s Summit and fell in love with the town’s focus on families.
“I knew in my gut it was the town he was called to serve,” he said. He found an apartment for his family and started meeting people and looking for a location to worship in.
All on faith.
“It’s highly scary, leaving a stable job at a great place with lots of friends and family around,” Obremski said.
Obremski said that in the longer range, he thinks he church will grow to be a multiple-site organization with locations, in Olathe, downtown Kansas City, Independence or Liberty, where the services would shared by video conferencing.
James River Assembly started in a storefront, but now has it has two campuses. It also “planted” autonomous churches in Springfield, Branson and Austin, Texas.
Some James River Assembly families, including a few staff members, between 40 and 50 people, chose to relocate to help start the church in Lee’s Summit.
“It’s been amazing, God just spoke to their hearts, because I haven’t recruited them,” Obremski said.
James River Assembly is helping with start-up costs, including Obremski’s salary, for the first year.
Pastor John Lindell said he’d had plans for Obremski that didn’t include his leaving, but Obremski had served the congregation for 13 years and felt a calling.
“How can you not get behind him?” Lindell said. “Scott and Jen have wonderful charisma, as a person he’s just fun and Jen is as sweet as the day is long and wise.”
Both have leadership qualities that will lead to a great church, he said.
One transplant to Lee’s Summit is the family of Ryan Wakefield.
Wakefield said he was able to keep his job, at AG Financial Solutions in Springfield, because he does consulting work across the nation, helping them with websites and other services, so his location is flexible.
Wakefield said that as obstacles to making the move faded, such as housing or finding a meeting site, both he and Obremski took as signs God was acting to allow them to fulfill his charge.
“One door after another door has opened up, after our steps of faith,” Wakefield said.
He said planting churches is just part of James River Assembly’s DNA.
“That’s the whole goal, to share God’s love, starting new churches is part of that, as I’ve seen it in action, it’s effective,” he said.
Obremski described Summit Park Church, affiliated with Assemblies of God denomination, as Jesus centered and Bible based.
“The Bible is the inspired word of God and Jesus is the son of God and the hope of the world,” he said.
For months, the new church has been organizing and practicing to ready for its first official service. This weekend members will arrive, again, during dawn hours to setup the stage, sound and projection system and instruments to transform the community center into a church meeting place. Then take it down again, to store until the next Sunday.
“It gets everybody involved, particularly the men” Obremski said. “We have to bring a change of clothes... but we’re having a blast doing it, taking a gymnasium and making it a place where people can meet God.
“It’s a loving, welcoming, great group of people. We’re just adding to the family, that’s the goal.”