A new church congregation gathered for its first worship service Sunday, driven by a simple mission: to give away all of its good will offerings to people who need it.
Doing that, they said, would allow them to "love God and his people, well."
Waterfront Community Church held its service in the Schaumburg High School auditorium, where they will continue to meet every Sunday at 10 a.m.
Using the theater's state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, the service opened with a contemporary praise band playing before accompanying video.
Senior Pastor Jim Semradek welcomed the crowd of nearly 250 to the opening worship. It had been his dream, he said, to build a church founded on simple messages while helping real people in need.
"I know it's crazy, but we're going to try and give all of our offerings away, so that it won't get in the way of people coming to church," said Semradek, most recently a pastor at Community Christian Church, based in Naperville, and a former staff member at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington.
Semradek added that the church's basic expenses are supported by a core of 10 families, allowing them to concentrate on the needs of the community.
During the service, worshipers learned about the first person to receive their offering. She is a single mother of a handicapped child, living in a Schaumburg apartment supported by the Fellowship Housing Corporation, based in Hoffman Estates.
"This is the first time we've had a mother with a handicapped child, so we wanted everything to be just right," said Susan Forbes, Fellowship Housing executive director. "Up until now, she's been living in a third floor apartment, and carrying the child up and down the stairs."
Worshipers responded warmly to the idea of helping the local mother, as well as the simple premise of the church.
"I like the fact that it's non-denominational and Christian oriented," said Sue Vogelgesang of Palatine.
Her friends concurred, adding that they supported the church's concept as well as its founders.
"With the way the economy is going and the world situation, people need this," added Carol von Lehe of Batavia. "In order to be Christ followers, you have to be willing to serve others."