Archive for Thursday, August 29, 2002

Grace Fellowship makes a house into a church home

August 29, 2002

The Grace Fellowship may not have stained glass windows, cathedral ceilings or other fancy accouterments, but for the nearly 20 Sunday worshippers and the handful of members who attend weekly Bible study, a home at 1317 Juniper Court is good enough.

"In the dealings of the early Church, most of them met in someone's house," said Pastor Tim Hartford. "This is how the churches began 2,000 years ago."

And as long as space allows, Hartford said the church planned to keep it that way.

"God has provided us a house that we've been able to enjoy," he said.

The fellowship, which has been meeting since February, offers Sunday morning worship that last longer than just Sunday morning. Hartford said formal services ran from 10:30 a.m. until about noon. After that ,the group usually shares a meal and communes until about 2 p.m.

After all, Hartford said, worship means acknowledging God is worthy, something members of the Grace Fellowship can do in many ways.

"Whether it's at the meal or singing songs, we want to do it as a way to acknowledge God is worthy," Hartford said.

Being a non-denominational fellowship, Grace could draw worshippers from various religious backgrounds, but Hartford said he didn't know much about his congregations' previous spiritual experiences.

"We don't pay much attention to backgrounds," he said. "We try to put all the emphasis on Scripture. We address Scripture as our authority in what we do and who we are, both as a Church and as Christians.

The services, which Hartford said followed an Isaiah worship format, have looked at the book of Ephesians while the Bible study has looked at the book of John.

"We reach two different groups of people," Hartford said of the worship services and Bible study. "We hold our Bible study at Pinecrest, so some of the people have not been physically able to participate in a church."

Through the different facets of the fellowship, Grace reaches children, youth, adults and seniors, Hartford said.

"We have a pretty good representation of ages," he said.

The vision for the church, who's reach is currently contained to Eudora, came about four or five years ago, Hartford said.

"Although God had given me the vision for it, I didn't realize I'd be the one carrying it out until about a year ago," he said. "And then everything moved really quickly."

When the Hartfords returned to Eudora from a pastoring position in North Dakota, Hartford said he wanted to make sure not to get ahead of what God could provide. After the first worship service, Hartford said he would know if whether the church was God's plan for him if one person asked him to lead a Bible study.

"In the next 36 hours, I had five interested," he said.

Hartford said the formation of Grace Fellowship came at a time when people were looking for spirituality in the face of terrorist threats, the West Nile virus and other current events concerns.

"People ask questions on a more spiritual realm," he said. "It's a privilege for me to be able to share what His word tells about Him."

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