By Sarah Shurge – When you think of church, most of the time you think of a building. A location. A place to go.
“A building is a safe place to gather, to worship, to be seen, to be welcomed at, but we understand the real truth, that church is the followers,” said Ryan Cabildo, lead pastor of Lanterns Church. “We don’t want to go to church, we want to be the church.”
Lanterns Church doesn’t have a building. On Sundays, Lanterns has service in Taft Galloway Elementary School.
“We don’t want to be known for being inside a building. We want to be known for being outside in the community,” said Pastor Cabildo.
Lanterns is a completely portable church. After service is over, they pack up and leave the school.
“We’re big on community. We see the pros in being in a school with families and people with real needs,” said Pastor Cabildo. “We’ve partnered with the social worker at Taft, and one of our staff members has a child that goes there. What better place to be than a school?”
Lanterns publicly launched their first Sunday service in Taft Galloway on October 2nd, 2022.
“Don’t come in thinking we’re perfect or that you have to be perfect,” said Pastor Cabildo. “We’re messy, we’re real, and we just want to do life together. One of our favorite sayings is ‘we’re a bunch of imperfect people moving towards a perfect God’.”
Lanterns is a church designed to meet people where they are at.
“We’re helping people discover their God-given purpose through Jesus. We’re messy people that struggle with addiction, anger issues, and other issues. But we’re able to tell those people that there’s a purpose for them, a healing, and a God that says ‘when you feel lost, you’ll be found. When you feel broken, you’ll be healed.’ I get to do that everyday. I can’t imagine a better life,” said Pastor Cabildo.
Cabildo has been a pastor for five years, however, he didn’t always plan on being a pastor or starting a church.
In his early 20s he was a musician that did small touring. He then went on to changing billboards on the side of highways.
Around seven years ago, he walked into a church that was only seven weeks old. This was a church-planting church, so a percentage of the donations they received went to starting other churches.
“They’re trying to expand the kingdom of God and I thought ‘how can we have this experience and join the mission with the other churches in Wayne’,” said Pastor Cabildo.
Cabildo grew up longboarding through the streets of Wayne. Wayne has always been his home and he has a deep passion and love for the city and its history.
“I didn’t want to start a church. I wanted someone else to do it and I would just help. But I just couldn’t shake it. It kept becoming clearer and clearer,” said Pastor Cabildo. “God used other people and they kept speaking it into my life.”
A large amount of Cabildo’s family now serves at the Lanterns Church and he claims they are and have been extremely supportive from the very start.
Cabildo’s sister, Olivia LaRowe is Lanterns’ Children’s Director and Admin. Cabildo’s childhood best friend, Kwa Mandisa is Lanterns’ Operations Director and Groups Coordinator.
Cabildo picked the name “Lanterns Church” for a specific reason.
“Everyone understands the difference between light and darkness. We truly believe that the church is the light and we’re called to share his light, which makes us lanterns,” said Pastor Cabildo.
Cabildo stated that Lanterns is a multigenerational and multicultural church.
“People tend to go places on Sunday where they are comfortable, and sometimes it can be a bit segregated. After the past few years with division, we get to focus on being unified and coming together,” said Pastor Cabildo.
Lanterns invites and encourages the public to come with an open mind. If you come and fill out a connect card, the church will donate five dollars to Taft in partnership to pay for books for the upcoming school year.
Lanterns has service every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in Taft Galloway Elementary School located at 4035 Gloria St Suite L, Wayne.
“We’re a new church, so we’re slowly starting new things. We have meet-ups for women, men, and students. We also have a kid’s program, which is a safe place to learn about love and purpose,” said Pastor Cabildo. If you have a need or want to meet with the Lanterns’ staff outside of Sunday service, you can. Lanterns has sub-leased an office in the Chamber of Commerce in Downtown Wayne. A Lanterns staff member will be there Monday – Thursday 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
For more information about Lanterns Church, you can visit lanternchurch.com. You can find them on Facebook, Instagram, or any Podcast app by searching “Lanterns Church”.
If you have any questions, you can email Pastor Cabildo at email@example.com.
“It’s a team run church,” said Pastor Cabildo. “The diversity of people that come together to be the church Monday through Sunday is why we can do what we do. From the guy waving the sign in the parking lot, to the people on stage, I couldn’t imagine doing it without them. It’s for each and every person. Everyone has value.”