GraceConnect eNews, No. 97, Week of April 27, 2015

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
The Extension of Grace Church, Bath Campus, Akron, Ohio, uses the facility in part for sports ministries throughout the year. (Photo by Pete Valentine)

Extensions of Grace

“God had put on our hearts to pursue multiplication. This was a version of multiplication that made a lot of sense to us,” says Ezra Wimberly.
 
Grace Church in Bath, Ohio (Jeff Bogue, senior pastor), recently opened a new building, called The Extension, located a few miles away from their original building. But it was meant to be a different kind of campus.
 
“The whole reason we opened The Extension is because we were running five services [at Bath Campus] and it was getting crowded,” explained Wimberly, who led the launch of The Extension.
 
“We knew that we weren’t really doing things to invite the community or hosting aggressive outreach events because we didn’t know where to put people on child dedication days or Mother’s Day. We had like 12 Christmas Eve services...ridiculous amounts.”
 
What’s so different about The Extension is that it is not a church plant, like some of the other Grace Church campuses. (In addition to their Bath campus, Grace Church also has campuses in Barberton, Medina, and Norton, Ohio.) The two primary purposes were for sports ministry and weekend services.
 
“Our vision was that anybody who goes to Bath can attend any service anywhere, anytime,” Wimberly explains. “The idea of planting campuses was so regular to us and our people that it was very difficult to conceptualize church services not on-site that wasn’t a different campus. It wasn’t a new church plant…just a different building and at a different time.”
 
They launched this past October and currently host two services there each weekend.
 
“People are receiving it really well,” said Wimberly. “Most of the time when people stop over there, what I get is, ‘I didn’t know what this would be like, but I prefer it. It feels like a smaller church.’ Even first-time guests say, ‘This is the church I’ve been looking for.’”
 
Located a mile or so closer to the metropolis hub of Akron than the original campus, The Extension has welcomed many new churchgoers, as well. The sports ministry has also opened doors for newcomers. The Extension, in addition to an auditorium, houses facilities for numerous sports, including a gym and locker rooms, and more in the works for the future. Opportunities for discipleship abound.
 
“We didn’t really want to have a league that was just full of Grace Church people. That’s part of why we’re doing sports ministry,” said Donny Varney, sports ministry pastor.  “We have launched 15 different sports ministry connect groups, and a basketball and cheerleading league. They came from everywhere. Forty percent of the children who were part of the league had nothing to do with Grace Church.”
 
“It definitely opened up a lot more opportunities for people to serve, as well…and people who are serving tend to own the mission in a deeper way,” continued Varney.
 
“[The sports ministry connect groups] help form a biblical community, but it’s in a format that is a lot less threatening than being in someone’s living room. [The participants] love the community…at the end of those weeks they say there’s the flavor of our life groups about. It is a significant bridge into Grace Church.” 

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Last week, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, the mountainous country between Tibet and India. The epicenter was located midway between the capital, Kathmandu, and the nation’s second-largest city, Pokhara. Aftershocks magnified the damage and complicated rescue efforts. Thousands of people are known to have died including reports of fatalities in India, Bangladesh, Tibet, and on Mount Everest.

Barb Wooler, director of crisis response for Encompass World Partners, has issued a call for prayer and giving as a team is preparing to deploy in a couple of weeks. Partnering with another evangelical mission agency, they will focus on a grouping of 13 church plants in the area hit by the earthquake. A team will be assembled to help on-site, concentrating on trauma counseling and clean-up. Until then, funds are needed to be used for immediate needs -- tents, water, food, blankets, etc. A goal of $30,000 has been set for this need. To give toward this effort, click here. Please manually chose the Crisis Response Network from a pull-down menu. If you are interested in volunteering to serve, contact Barb Wooler directly at bwooler@encompassworld.org.

John McCollum, executive director of Asia's Hope (which has orphan homes in northern India), reported on Facebook: "We are thankful that all of the kids and staff of Asia's Hope India are safe and properties seem undamaged. But we are concerned for our brothers and sisters in nearby Nepal."

Asia's Hope is responding to this crisis by prioritizing grassroots, orphan-focused relief efforts. All funds donated will be distributed to Nepali and Indian leaders connected to Asia's Hope who are already caring for orphaned children and those caring for children orphaned by the earthquake. Click here for more information.
 
[Read:]
Women of Grace USA, a cooperating ministry with the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, curates several blogs by women in their ministry. Check them out!

>>Released! is the official blog of Women of Grace USA. It features short, devotional-like posts aimed at encouraging women to grow in their relationship to Christ.

>>Musings for Moms is another Women of Grace blog, geared towards mothers. A recent post, Why are Moms so Lonely? by Kate Ward, explores reasons for the often lonely walk of motherhood and offers encouragement to struggling moms.  

>>Nichole Miller also blogs here, sharing her stories about her role as the girls' ministry coordinator for Women of Grace USA, and offering encouragement and insight for our Christian walk. 

Events in the FGBC

June 15-July 27 – Operation Barnabas, Winona Lake, Ind. (CEN)
June 21-27, 2015  Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Ontario (GBC)
June 21-27, 2015 – Encounter Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga. (EWP)
June 23-July 7 City Life Tours East Coast & West Coast (CEN)
July 14-19, 2015 – Momentum Youth Conference, Marion, Ind. (CEN) 
July 23-26, 2015 – Flinch Conference (national conference), Newark, N.J. (FGBC) 

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

Send events for the calendar to lcgates@bmhbooks.com.
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GraceConnect eNews is produced by MariJean Sanders, editorial coordinator.

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