Mosaic Waco pieces community together through worship

Multicultural church Mosaic Waco brings more inclusivity to the Christian scene in Waco. Grace Everett | Photo Editor

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

There is laughter from down the hall while climbing the many steps of the Meyer Center on Washington Avenue. The sound guides through the twists and turns to where Mosaic Waco, a multicultural church with “a heart for social justice,” meets for small group worship several times a week.

On the way is pastor Slim Thompson’s office, which doubles as the nursing mothers room. There’s the standard desk and chair, a printer and a baby changing station in the corner. The Alico building can be seen from the window, lit up in red against the sunset.

Mosaic is unlike most churches. Attendees of a service at Mosaic can expect to hear things they may have never heard in church before. The church meets on Sundays at 10 a.m. with services live-streamed on their website.

Pastor Malcolm Foley said he wants the church to “reshape for folks what ought to be normal.”

“After January 6th [2021], I told the church that white supremacy is anti-Christ, that so-called Christian nationalism is anti-Christ and that worship of any political figure, Trump or otherwise, is anti-Christ,” Foley said. “It’s fundamentally contrary to us being citizens of the kingdom of God.”

Foley said members of the congregation told him they were surprised that they had never heard a pastor say those things. Once it had been said, according to Foley, it seemed to have made sense all along.

Present on pastor Thompson’s shelves are titles such as “The Race-Wise Family” and an audiobook entitled “Welcoming the Stranger,” a volume on Christian compassion for immigrants.

Mosaic came about in 2019 when Thompson and Foley saw the need for a multicultural, multiethnic church here in Waco. Thompson said he had “the scales fall from his eyes” when he and his wife adopted an African American child from the foster system.

“We started reading books by men and women of color and started having conversations with people outside our normal circles,” Thompson said. “Just by having those conversations, we learned that we grew up in a bubble and had a privilege of not knowing all of the pains that it feels like today, everyone has seen in high definition.”

Foley said he remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s interpretation of the story of the Good Samaritan. King said if one walks a certain road every day, and always sees someone beat up along that road, they should ask themselves what it is about the road that beats people up.

“We want to be a community that doesn’t just do those kinds of discrete acts of assistance and walking alongside folks,” Foley said. “We also want to think about ways that we can make our streets safer.”

Mosaic is not “colorblind.” Foley said part of their mission is to celebrate different cultures to get a “fuller picture of the kingdom.” That means acknowledging the baggage and history that comes with living in what Foley called a “racialized” country.

“If we are to minister to one another, particularly in this country, it’s important to understand the way that that history works,” Foley said. “For us to claim to be colorblind, we would be cutting ourselves off from loving one another in really deep, meaningful ways.”

Acknowledging and celebrating different cultural backgrounds is one way to grow in faith, Foley said.

“The gospel is a kaleidoscope,” Foley said. “The gospel can break into, but is never at home, in any one culture … We come to know God better in that context and we come to know one another in that context.”

Located above Waco Family Medicine in the Meyer Center, which provides healthcare to people experiencing poverty in McLennan County, Mosaic is always focused on serving members of the community.

“Our first and foremost priority is care for the people,” Foley said. “I think in a number of American churches, greed is this thing that floats underneath the surface … The more resources you have access to, the easier it is to place your faith in those resources.”

That is why Foley and Thompson said they take issue with pastors who make their church more opulent and enjoy personal benefits. Thompson said leaders like Carl Lentz, the former pastor of Hillsong, are disappointing.

“Seeing a pastor wearing $600 sneakers doesn’t communicate the best,” Thompson said. “Greed is just such a tempting thing to come by … It’s rough to see.”

For all the boundary-breaking Mosaic does, Thompson said he wants the community to know that their services remain gospel centered.

“Many may go, ‘that’s the social justice church,’ and try to pigeon-hole us as the church that speaks against racism,” Thompson said. “That’s a big application of the gospel, but every Sunday, if you get the chance to see it, we do come to Jesus Christ.”