Small church start grows into multifaceted ministry

Pastor Robert Canady leads the congregation in prayer at All Nations Fellowship in Garland.

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Robert Canady was serving as the pastor of pastoral care at Friendship West Baptist Church in South Dallas when he sensed God calling him to start a church on the east side of Dallas County.

So, on March 31, 2003, Canady quit his job to plant a new church with no building, no members and no funds. However, he had faith God would provide.

That afternoon, he went to the gym, where he ran into Charlie Wilson, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Sunnyvale and one-time director of evangelism for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

When Wilson heard about Canady’s ambitions, he recognized they shared the same vision to start a church in eastern Dallas County.

First Baptist in Sunnyvale recently had acquired a building where a new church could meet, and the established congregation had people who would serve in their ministries and funds available to get the new congregation started.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Canady said. “You know that was all God.”

With that, All Nations Fellowship was born in Garland, with 12 initial members.

In the years that followed, All Nations Fellowship grew to nearly 800 members before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Helping people prepare for ‘Next Level Life’

The church is involved in a variety of ministries in its community, striving to meet people where they are and improve their lives.

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One of the largest is Next Level Life, a faith-based nonprofit organization led by Stephanie Canady, the senior pastor’s wife and executive pastor of administration for All Nations Fellowship.

Next Level Life is designed to help local students prepare for the “next level” of life, whether college or the workforce. It seeks to educate students about real-life issues, from finances to resumes to health care.

“We started Next Level Life because we felt like there was a need to make sure our kids were ready. Some kids are going to go to college. Some are going to go straight into the workforce. And they’re not all ready,” Canady said. “We want these kids to have the best opportunity for success that we can give them.”

A prostate cancer diagnosis in late 2020 opened Canady’s eyes to even more opportunities for local ministry. He learned African American men are at increased risk for developing prostate cancer. In fact, a study by Zero Cancer shows that one in six African American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

Men attend a health symposium hosted by All Nations Fellowship.

As Canady went through his doctor appointments, surgery and recovery, he felt God calling him to start a new component of their ministry—the Next Level Life Men’s Health.

It will educate men in their community, the majority of whom are African American, about health issues, particularly prostate cancer, Canady explained.

Next Level also will help those who cannot afford medical care get check-ups and anything else they need to stay healthy.

“God took me around the long way to get me to see what he wanted me to see,” Canady said regarding his own cancer.

Rather than focus on building a larger facility—which was the church’s plan before the COVID-19 pandemic—the congregation has determined to build a bigger ministry to make a bigger impact in its community.

“The pandemic has taught us that we don’t need a big church, we just need a big ministry. Our goal is to do massive ministry by reaching the masses,” Canady said.

“I’m glad we never started the new church building because that’s God’s hand directing and ordering our steps. [The church’s] vision has been made even clearer. We are a body of Christian believers called to impact the community, edify the believer and glorify the Father.”

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