Reading for Her Next Assignment
After serving in the Assemblies of God World Missions fields of Peru and Honduras for 20 years and as regional director of Global University for Latin America for four years, Assemblies of God Pastor Evelyn Klingler sought the Lord for her next marching orders. She says God responded with an unexpected call to Reading, Pennsylvania.
The city has a reputation for poverty, violence, and drug abuse. In 2013, the American Poverty Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Reading as the second poorest city in the nation.
"I come from years of revival and saw people healed of cancer and literally raised from the dead," Klingler says. "To come here to the States and now find my own country a mission field was really an eye-opener."
Klingler and her husband Sam moved to the city of 88,000 and planted The Place in November 2012. The vibrant church offers services with a bilingual flair to meet the needs of the near 60 percent Hispanic population.
Evelyn, who was born and raised in Manhattan's lower east side, and is of Hispanic descent, says she and Sam, who has a Pennsylvania Dutch background, are a good combination for the city.
Though she is one of only a few female pastors in the area, Evelyn says she is passionate to see the people of Reading reached for Christ and the heart of the inner city changed by the power of the gospel.
Evelyn and Sam are bivocational, operating a local Aire-Master franchise. The church was launched in a rented facility called The Riveredge and is the sixth church plant of Morning Star Fellowship in nearby Bechtelsville, where Steven DeFrain is senior pastor.
DeFrain established a relationship with the Klinglers when they were on the mission field. He says the church plant reflects the couple's spiritual gifts and qualities.
"Evelyn and Sam were a perfect match," he says. "I can get behind them and help them fulfill their dream."
In addition to contributing $14,000 in startup costs, DeFrain says Morning Star Fellowship's role as Parent Affiliated Church is to provide monthly support as well as coaching and mentoring.
Journey Church in Schwenskville, Pennsylvania, also started by Morning Star, contributed $8,000 to The Place as well.
Funding also is coming from the AG PennDel District, which designated The Place as a 2015 Home Missions Fundraising Project.
In May, The Place secured a permanent location across the street from Northwest Junior High School, where the church conducts an after-school art and sports program called Canvas.
The Place recently partnered with the school to offer a bilingual General Educational Development tests and soon will open the Many Rivers Learning Center, which will merge Canvas into a program for children and adults to learn music, computers, and arts.
Klingler hopes to see lives change as whole families come to know God.
"Every time a new church is born, God brings new life into the community," she says. "When Jesus comes into the heart, He takes poverty from the inside out. That's what the gospel does for the soul."