GraceConnect eNews, No. 155, Week of June 6, 2016

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
The Full Extension

Three miles down the road from Grace Church, a Grace Brethren congregation in Akron, Ohio (Jeff Bogue, senior pastor), there is a building. That building once belonged to another congregation who lost the property in a court dispute. The facility was put up for sale, and Grace Church prayed and fasted--and placed a bid. But so did another church; who just happened to outbid them.

Resigning to it being God’s will, Grace Church swallowed and moved on; until several months later, when the realtor called. The other church’s finances had fallen through. If Grace Church’s offer was still good, the building was still available. Again, God proved to be in control.

Grace Church’s motivation for purchasing the building was that they were looking for a strategy to reach people within their locality. No stranger to branching out, the church has created locations that they refer to as ‘campuses’. Their main campus in Bath recognizes its brothers and sisters in Barberton, Medina, and Norton. But with this building, Grace’s elders and congregation were entering a more local mission field.

“Our church’s heartbeat has always been to multiply,” states Ezra Wimberly, lead pastor of worship and creative arts at Grace Church Bath. “Our motto is that disciples make disciples, small groups make small groups, and churches make churches.”

Their motto has been applied in sending people out to other areas of Ohio. But never so close to home, though Pastor Wimberly and his fellow leaders certainly see the need; especially for sports and connection with youth. That is where the ‘Extension’ comes in since its purchase in October of 2014. After some hefty renovation, that is. Hallways were opened, offices converted into classrooms and the building’s gym--doubling as a sanctuary-- needed to be fitted with a video and sound system.

Plenty of physical labor awaited Wimberly and the others, as well as mental anxiety. Would the Extension draw in people of the community? Were there enough volunteers to help, and, more importantly, would they stay committed? Wimberly was primarily concerned that the video sermons, shown live from the main campus on Ghent Road, would be a turnoff for newcomers.


Grace’s worry was for nothing. Currently, the Extension holds a weekly attendance drawing 600-700 people. Families in the area appreciate its vibe of a smaller, more personal church atmosphere. The video sermons have not posed a problem either. Through its services and its sports programs, the Extension is proving to be a great way for Grace Church attaching its presence to the Akron/Canton community.

While a secondary location for Grace Church’s Sunday services, it is also a facility for Grace’s sports ministry. Basketball leagues are offered from kindergarten through sixth grade during a ten-week stint in January, February, and March.

Other involvements include Game Day, where it's bring-your-team-to-church, various sports teams known as Connect Groups, and any number of pick-up games that happen to take place in the Extension’s gymnasium. The main vein of ministry is, of course, discipleship, for all volunteers [coaches and otherwise] and kids participating and parents attending are discipled through Sports Ministry.


“We saw an opportunity,” Pastor Wimberly expresses about the progress made within the Extension. “As we’ve seized the opportunity we saw God giving us, we’ve experienced the reward of seeing more people introduced to Jesus.” --by Haley Bradfield

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[Your Turn]


[Read...Aloud:]

Grace Church, a Grace Brethren church in Lititz, Pa. (Ivanildo Trindade, pastor), took on the challenge of repeating an ancient tradition -- reading aloud the Word of God.

The whole thing. Well, the whole New Testament, anyway. Their "N.T. Live" event started early morning on May 28 and lasted for 19 hours.

"It was more than an event," writes their pastor, Ivanildo Trindade. "It was a communal exercise fueled by the powerful Word of God. Memorable, yes, but life-changing as well...By the time we were done with the Gospels, I thought my heart was going to explode – Jesus in all His glory and frailty had been displayed."

Click here to read the full account, and check out photos from the event on the Grace Lititz Facebook page.

[#SummerAtGrace]

Summer has a different pace in most churches. School is out. Families are on vacation. The weather is warm.

It's time for the all-church picnic, vacation Bible school, church softball games, and maybe even outdoor baptism or communion services.

What is happening in your church this summer? Share your photos of summer events at your church on social media using the hashtags #summeratgrace or #graceconnectsus‬. We'll post the best ones on the GraceConnect Facebook page!


[Ink & Paper]

If you like the stories in GraceConnect eNews, you'll enjoy reading GraceConnect magazine. It's published once a quarter and touches on topics that are important to people of faith such as the Bible, prayer, the Holy Spirit, and other themes. In it, you'll find thoughtful articles written by faculty members at Grace College and Seminary and Grace Brethren pastors and leaders. Be among the first to read each edition. Simply click here for your free subscription! The Summer issue will be in the mail in July.

Check out past editions of the magazine here or on Issuu.
 

Events in the FGBC

June 13-17, 2016   Encounter SoCal (EWP)
June 19-25, 2016  The Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Canada (GBC)
June 20-July 11, 2016  Operation Barnabas Tours (CEN)
June 22-28, 2016  Mission Trip to Haiti (WGUSA)
June 27-July 1, 2016  Encounter Atlanta Atlanta, Ga. (EWP)
July 4-10, 2016  StreetWise (formerly Crosswalk) Philadelphia, Pa. (CEN)
July 22-25, 2016  Margins Conference Toronto, Canada (FGBC) 
July 26-31, 2016  Momentum Youth Conference Cedarville, Ohio (CEN)
August 26-27, 2016   WLS: Principles of Effective Bible Study, Winona Lake, Ind. (WGUSA)
September 9-10, 2016   WLS: Soul Care in Leadership, Eagle River, Alaska (WGUSA)
September 26-28, 2016  ​Central Focus Retreat (FGBC)
September 30-October 2, 2016   Soul Cry: Prayer Summit, Auburn, Ind. (WGUSA)
October 7-8, 2016   WLS: Soul Care in Leadership, New Holland, Pa. (WGUSA)
October 17-19, 2016  ​East Focus Retreat (FGBC)
November 11-12, 2016   WLS: Equipping Others for Ministry, Marysville, Ohio (WGUSA)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA
GC – Grace College

Send events for the calendar to lcgates@bmhbooks.com.
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