The Edge Church will offer the season’s first church service at MVP in Newton on May 26.

MVP is a bar owned by Valena Patridge. Last year, The Edge partnered with MVP to bring non-traditional church services to southern Illinois.

Jessica Parrent, 42, of Newton, has been instrumental in organizing the church services and sober bar events at MVP.

Parrent holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and founded Breakthrough Christian Counseling three years ago.

She said, “There are so many people out there hurting, that need to see how loved and valuable they are, they need someone to listen and care.”

A few years ago, while facilitating Celebrate Recovery meetings, Parrent and her husband noticed a trend among people experiencing challenges with psycho-emotional wellness, various forms of abuse, and addictions.

Parrent said, “People at meetings felt they did not have a church to go to where they felt accepted. A lot of people with piercings, tattoos, don’t fit the mold.

“Out of the blue, get a message from a guy I met once in Vincennes. Said they were interested in starting a church in Jasper County.”

The “guy” was Bob Morrison, co-founder of The Three Nails Project, a faith based charitable non-profit which specializes in disaster recovery, food security, and funds community projects such as the Addictions Solutions sober living community in Olney.

The organization’s church is known as The Edge Church, and currently has two venues in Vincennes, Ind.

Parrent was familiar with The Edge’s open door policy to anyone who wishes to attend their services.

With the consent of MVP owner Patridge, and the help of manager Roni Meyers, The Edge held its first service at the bar in July 2017.

The congregation was greeted by The Edge’s welcome message:

“It doesn’t matter if you’re inked up, pierced up, messed up, lost, found, broken, or somewhere in the middle, you are welcome here! You are safe here! This is not a house of judgment!”

Parrent said, “We just embraced showing everybody love, not leaving anyone out, loving them right where they’re at.”

To paint a picture of church service, Parrent reported that after the initial church welcome there is a greeting time during which a popular song is played, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” from the popular TV show, Cheers.

“There is no handshaking, just people old people, just everyone reaching out in love,” Parrent said.

She also reported that The Edge Church does not take offerings and there is no plate passed around.

“We want everyone to know they are welcome money has nothing to do with it.

None of the ministers in any role are paid. They are here sharing Gods love because this is what they have been called to do,” Parrent said.

Seeing that The Edge Church at MVP was a hit, Parrent started praying and dreaming about where God was leading the church.

As the year went on, and the weather got cold, services were moved indoors to an old abandoned bar in Newton.

The Edge started having a sober bar once a month for people coming out of addiction who felt they no longer had places to go to socialize. These gatherings included bands, open mics, pool tournaments, and trivia, without the alcohol.

“We never had an issue with anyone disrespecting the sobriety of the event,” Parrent said.

In fact, Parrent reported that the church’s open door policy has attracted some folks to a new way of life.

She said, “One young man came New Year’s Eve to the sober bar. He was not working on sobriety at that time, just came because his friends were going there. Two month ago, he reached out to me to ask about a recovery program. I referred him to Addiction Solutions.”

The idea of combining a bar scene with church services was not popular among everyone. Parrent reported that there was some opposition from community members who expressed reasonable concerns about the possibility of such events leading people into a “bad place.”

Parrent was undeterred by these concerns.

She said, “We didn’t know that the area needed a sober bar, but God did … One thing I think a lot of churches could learn from the MVP family is how to love everybody and treat everybody like family.” 

The Edge Church welcomes people from the southern Illinois area to experience the church service and community at MVP in Newton at 10:00 a.m. on May 26.