By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A fitting bit of irony is tied to the life journey of the Rev. Bryan Meado.
His dad was a carpenter, and Meado grew up with an interest in carpentry, even working in construction.
To this day, the 48-year-old Meado sustains an avid interest in watching things come together via hammers and nails. Only now, however, his principal interest in building and rebuilding transcends simple brick and mortar. Meado is most concerned with helping build and rebuild lives.
Even the name of the house of worship that Meado pastors -- the Rock Church -- is tied to the "building" theme, centered around Matthew 16:18.
" ... and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
"The rock is the firmest of foundations," Meado said. "If your life does not have a firm foundation, the (weaknesses) will eventually be exposed. People need something stable in their life."
The Rock Church sits on the south side of what is otherwise a retail center near the southwest corner of 36th and Broadway. The church opened in 2004 and has quietly carved its niche in the Quincy religious community.
The Rock had about a dozen people when it started. Attendance now averages about 75 on Sunday. The church expanded a few years ago, taking over another area of the small shopping center.
Meado said the congregation is working toward acquiring its own property but is in no particular hurry. He said he learned a long time ago that God will do things in his own time and fashion. Until then, Meado's carpentry skills will continue to come in quite handy as he and members of the church knock out another wall or renovate a nursery to adapt their building to a growing population.
Meado has emerged as a community leader through his chaplaincy efforts with Blessing Hospital and local EMS personnel, plus involvement in area ministerial projects and other community endeavors. Members of the church have been equally involved in community causes and projects, helping make "The Rock" a household name.
"We get a lot of questions about our name," Meado says, before chuckling. "Some think it's all about rock music or something."
Meado said the Rock is a contemporary church with a traditional base of faith.
"A lot of our music is Chris Tomlin and (other contemporary artists), but we'll also take a traditional hymn and give it a different rhythm," Meado said. "There's a reason so many people call into (local contemporary Christian radio station) WGCA for these songs. God uses the gift of music.
"We're an evangelistic church. We believe in reaching out. I would say we have a charismatic doctrine, and we believe in the gifts of the spirit."
Meado previously spent 16 years at River of Life Church in Quincy, 14 as an assistant. He was born and raised in Quincy and attended the former United Pentecostal Church growing up and later was involved with the Faith Assembly of God.
Meado, who said he felt the call to ministry at a young age, attended Quincy University and Central Bible College in Springfield, Mo. He originally wanted to travel the world as an evangelist, "but God had other plans," he said.
Even though he has a strong Pentecostal background, Meado is far from the stereotypical fire-and-brimstone pastor of years past. There are few, if any, suits and ties to be found at the Rock Church. Meado is routinely found addressing the congregation in an open-collared shirt and khakis.
"That's who we are," he says, gesturing toward his tie-less collar.
Meado's informal, easygoing approach from the pulpit and beyond is one of the intangibles that has helped the church build its identity and strengthen its foundation.
Much like, well ... a rock.