In May of 2006, God began to open doors for Tony and Melissa to minister to the college students and young adults of Tyler. They spent many months fasting and praying about what steps the Lord wanted them to take and began to meet with close friends to discuss the unique qualities of those for whom they were burdened. Anticipation grew as God began to pour into this core group certain Vision and Values, which distinguished this effort from anything they had previously been a part of.
Ephesians 4 became a central chapter of scripture as they began to understand God’s desire to see His Body unified and equipped so that the world may come to know Christ. It did not take long to realize that “soma”, which is the Greek word for “body”, would be an appropriate name for this ministry. SOMA would appeal in name, as well as in function, to a generation that has had a difficult time connecting to the typical “church” environment.
Soma held its first gathering on Sunday night, February 11th, 2007, at The Arcadia Coffee Company on the Square in downtown Tyler. There were approximately 75 people at the first service, though many were friends and family. SOMA settled in to a group of about 40 people over the next few months, and by that September 75 to 100 people consistently attended each week. As SOMA continued growing, it became too crowded to meet in the small upper room at Arcadia. After much prayer, SOMA decided to find a new location. In March of 2008, SOMA moved a couple of blocks up the street to the basement of an old bank in the downtown area.
In early 2009, leadership began to sense that SOMA was becoming more than a Bible Study. People were beginning to call SOMA their church. That August, after praying and fasting together, SOMA Leadership decided to move from Sunday nights to Sunday mornings and become SomaChurch. There was an immediate influx of families with children. The following February, SomaChurch moved to The Discovery Science Place Annex Building where there was more space to worship together and to facilitate the growing number of children.
SOMA spent three years at the The Discovery Science Place. These were three amazing years of spiritual and numeric growth. After a management change, The Discovery Science Place shifted the direction of their organization and the usage of their facilities. SOMA had to find a new home. God sovereignly connected Pastor Tony and Pastor Joe Canal of Tyler Christian Fellowship (TCF) and a wonderful relationship began. For five years, SOMA met on Saturday nights at Tyler Christian Fellowship with more room than ever to minister to the whole family.
On October 27, 2018, SomaChurch moved into our new location at 3700 Old Bullard Rd. in Tyler. We purchased the property from First Church of the Nazarene in April and took the next six months to renovate and make our new house feel like home. We are thankful to God for blessing us with such hospitable and generous people, organizations and community who have partnered with us on this journey. We know we wouldn’t be here without the kindness of TCF, Discovery Science Place, First Nazarene and, of course, our SomaChurch family.
Soma is now in its 13th year and God continues to reveal His greater plans and purposes for us. People are growing in their faith and reaching out to their friends, co-workers, and families. Lives are being changed from the inside out as people discover the love of Christ and what it means to walk humbly before the Lord. Many are reaching out beyond themselves to meet the needs of others – both physically, and spiritually. Young men and women are pursuing lifestyles of purity and preparing themselves for their future wives and husbands. Young married couples are learning what it means to have peaceful homes and to raise Godly children. Seasoned marriages are exemplifying steadfastness and offering hope for a healthy family. Covenant friendships that will last a lifetime are developing as we all learn what it means to live out the Gospel of Christ together.
The faithfulness of God has been evident throughout the journey of this church and we trust that He will continue to be faithful in the future. Our prayer is that you will also find family at SomaChurch who will walk beside you as you pursue living a life worthy of the calling.