New church to hold first service at ROMS

Inaugural gathering of New City Presbyterian Church is Jan. 20

By: Chris Jackett | Royal Oak Review | Published January 16, 2013

 The Rev. Ryan McVicar stands in the Royal Oak Middle School auditorium Jan. 10.  At 10:30 a.m. Jan. 20, the auditorium will welcome New City Presbyterian Church’s first service.

The Rev. Ryan McVicar stands in the Royal Oak Middle School auditorium Jan. 10. At 10:30 a.m. Jan. 20, the auditorium will welcome New City Presbyterian Church’s first service.

Photo by Edward Osinski

ROYAL OAK — While some churches are closing their doors, others are just starting up.

This weekend, nearly two months after St. Dennis Catholic Church closed in Royal Oak, the New City Presbyterian Church will hold its first service as the latest worship group in the area. The brainchild of the Rev. Ryan McVicar, a 36-year-old Royal Oak resident, New City Presbyterian Church patrons will gather at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 20 at the Royal Oak Middle School Auditorium, 709 N. Washington. The group will meet each ensuing Sunday afterward.

“In talking with people, there was a lot of interest in people wanting to be a part of a new church start-up,” McVicar said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or be too provocative. We have people from a lot of different backgrounds.”

McVicar said he didn’t grow up with any sort of religious background, but it was something he slowly got into instead. The same could be said about how he ended up in Royal Oak with his wife and children.

“I’m from Illinois and I did not grow up really in church,” McVicar said. “I was always kind of spiritually curious, but I didn’t have a church or anyone to talk to.

“I was very attracted to the Midwestern culture and the Rust Belt. I just really love this area and grew an affinity for this area.”

Because New City Presbyterian Church is just starting up, the need and resources for a dedicated church facility are simply not there. However, the group’s first organized gathering, for Christmas, drew about 85 people together.

“We got to the point where we wanted to become public,” McVicar said. “We believe each church is not a building — brick and mortar — it’s a belief.”

Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said renting out space to New City Presbyterian Church on Sundays is purely business, similar to how Birmingham Public Schools has rented Groves High School to Kensington Church for several years.

“Like many school districts, the school district permits various religious and non-religious organizations to rent school-district facilities from time to time,” Lewis-Lakin said via email. “The school district does not discriminate in the rental of its facilities based upon religious, theological or other content-based perspectives. The views of the entities which rent school-district facilities do not necessarily reflect the views of the school district. The activities of the New City Presbyterian Church are not school, school-sponsored, school-endorsed or school-affiliated activities.”

McVicar is perfectly fine renting out space. He doesn’t plan on saving up for a building, either.

“Our hope is that a lot of our mission work will be done though our New City groups. Different neighborhoods have different needs,” McVicar said. “We’re a church that’s really committed to the city. I think the goal is to explore seriously the teachings of the Bible and interpret it.”

The New City groups will be groups of eight to 15 people who gather at coffee shops, restaurants or personal houses to discuss the Bible’s teachings with one another.

“I have met some people with Catholic backgrounds that have come to me and said they grew up Catholic, but didn’t really get it,” McVicar said. “We’re not about putting up another religious obstacle course. We really want to explain the Bible. We don’t want to say, ‘Here’s the Bible. Believe it.’”

McVicar said the underlying lessons from the Bible and sense of community are the underlying focus.

“We’re very rooted in our beliefs. A lot of the new churches being started are non-denominational,” McVicar said. “A lot of people, they view Presbyterian as a cold, dying, old denomination. We’re saying a real relationship with God can be had and it’s not from becoming more religious.”

McVicar said New City Presbyterian Church will welcome anyone to come and talk, regardless of their beliefs. His goal is not to have a conservative or a liberal focus, but rather to make sure no one feels like outcasts.

“Our first couple weeks we’re celebrating,” McVicar said. “We’ll have bounce houses for the kids and pizza from a local pizza joint, Tania’s.”

For more information on New City Presbyterian Church, visit