|Connecting People and Churches of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches||Thursday, December 12 2013|
Liz Cutler Gates
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 19:59
In 1974, then-Pastor Jim Custer invited recent Grace College graduate Randy Kettering to become the Worship and Music Director for the growing Grace Brethren Church of Columbus, Ohio. At that time, Pastor Jim proposed three goals for the church’s ongoing
With those goals in mind, in 1986 the north Columbus congregation set out to tell the story of Jesus through a clear, memorable, live experience featuring music, drama, media, as well as any other creative element that could be employed. They built two towering, 30-foot tall, steel “Christmas trees” to hold the choir, constructed huge sets to transform the auditorium into biblical-times Bethlehem, and appealed to the congregation’s giftedness to help make Living Christmas Trees a reality.
They’ve taken the production from their own facilities in the suburbs to downtown venues and back. The productions have featured a variety of animals (from camels, donkeys, and sheep to horses, birds, and boa constrictors) along with angels that come to life as Christ’s birth is announced. Each year a new script tells the neverchanging story of why Jesus came as a babe in the manger – moving through His life from birth to death on the cross for the sins of the world.
Each year 600 to 800 volunteers spend more than a combined 20,000 hours to write new scripts and music; build and paint sets; coordinate and feed volunteers; learn lines, lyrics, and notes; decorate facilities; organize props and people; direct traffi c; and pray for the hearts of both those witnessing and those participating in the concerts. More than half a million people from around the Midwest and across the country have attended the event.
In 2011 the church, now known as Grace Polaris (Mike Yoder, lead pastor), celebrates 25 years of helping to make the story of Christ’s birth, life, and ultimate sacrifice more real to those who attend.
In this 25th anniversary season, the storyline introduces Cody, who’s been asked to bring cookies to his second grade holiday party to celebrate winter; and he’s left wondering who took the CHRISTMAS out of Christmas! Later that night he has a bad dream that Christmas might go away forever. Under the cloud of this being his last Christmas, Cody travels back to witness the fi rst Christmas
Though it was all just a dream, Cody realizes that Christmas isn’t just here to stay. It’s for yesterday, today, and forever!
The Living Christmas Trees, which is still under the direction of Kettering, opens December 3 and continues through December 18 at Polaris Grace, which is located at 8225 Worthington-Galena Road, Westerville, Ohio, 43081.
Tickets may be ordered online at gracelct.org or by calling 614-431-8222 (toll-free 1-888-477-8573).
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 19:33
Quick now…take a trip down memory lane to your elementary math class. Remember the word integer? An integer is a whole number. If you’re struggling, an integer is not a fraction.
The word has many relatives in English. Integral refers to being “a crucial part of the whole.” Integrity means “to be uncompromised and trustworthy.” Integrated schools brought diff erent races together during the turbulent 60s.
You may have heard about integrated ministries from the Commitment to Common Mission, adopted by our Fellowship. When the articles in this magazine refer to integrated ministries, they describe people involved in ministries of compassion in the name of Christ.
When Jesus interacted with people, He “had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless...” (Matthew 9:36, NIV). Followers of Christ today are reminded to imitate His example and be clothed “with compassion” (Colossians 3:12).
Jesus set the pace for us. He healed the sick, restored the sight of the blind, gave the lame the ability to walk, and raised the dead. He fed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fish. He calmed a raging storm and multiplied a catch of fish. These miracles were tangible demonstrations of His love for hurting people. He got their attention; then He called them to follow Him as disciples.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ remains the core of our message, but the love of Jesus compels us to express His love in tangible ways to a broken world. We may not be able to perform the miracles He performed, but we can express His love through acts of compassion.
As you read these pages and hear more about integrated ministries, remember that tangible expressions of God’s love are important tools He can use to soften hearts calloused by sin. Such expressions do not substitute for declaring the message of the Gospel. They support and flavor that message with love.
I encourage you to look prayerfully around your own community for ways God might express His love through you to those who are lost and need a Shepherd (Luke 15:3-7).
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 19:12
The Christmas season. It’s anticipated, enjoyed, and usually regarded as the most joyous time of the year. But not for everyone. For many people, it can be a painful time. Feelings of sorrow or loneliness can intensify during the holiday season, as people face the reality that their Christmas may not be as merry as it might have been.
In recent years, tough economic conditions have added to that pain. Job losses and fi nancial setbacks have produced discouragement and hopelessness. Even sadder is that many people try to face these challenges without Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.
With those realities in mind, the Winona Lake (Ind.) Grace Brethren Church (WLGBC) organized We Care Warsaw, an outreach day designed to demonstrate God’s love to those in need in greater Warsaw-Winona Lake. (The Kosciusko County seat and its adjacent town is an area that boasts a combined population of more than 18,000 people, with more than 10 percent of that number
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 18:19
Events of interest among Grace Brethren churches for the Fall of 2011.
Details and registration information are available from the sponsoring organizations or at fgbc.org.
November 3-5 Homecoming (GC&S)
CEN = CE National (cenational.org)
Published in Photo Features
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 18:15
One of the largest-scale research projects ever undertaken in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC) is in progress to help participating congregations index their relative health in seven “transformational church” categories and to assist pastors in identifying and developing their leadership styles.
The study, whose lead researcher is Terry White of BMH Books and a member of the Leadership Development team in the FGBC, involves two parts. Participating pastors are asked to complete a short online survey which identifies their primary leadership style, and they also choose three or more “raters” who are familiar with their leadership to complete the questionnaire, as well.
Congregation members are encouraged to log on to a dedicated website and complete a 15-20 minute Transformational Church Assessment Tool survey which indexes the church’s relative strength in seven areas. Paper surveys may be completed for those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the online versions.
Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research are the developers of the instrument. Stetzer addressed the FGBC national conference several years ago in Columbus, Ohio.
The Transformational Church Assessment Tool, which is usable by churches of any size, is seen as a “better report card” of a church’s ability to transform lives and to transform the community in which it is placed.
According to the developers, it measures, “How are we doing? And how are we doing it?” Congregations have long measured success by “bodies, budget, and buildings” —a certain record of attendance, the off ering plate, and square footage. But a better scorecard helps the church determine its deeper emphasis on accountability, discipleship, and spiritual maturity. The seven areas measured by the instrument include worship, community, mission, missionary mentality, vibrant leadership, relational intentionality, and prayerful dependence.
Th e study is open to all FGBC churches whose lead or senior pastor has been in position for at least three years. It is anticipated that at least 30 churches will ultimately participate.
There is no charge, except for a data processing fee that accompanies the TCAT tool.
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 15:17
“God gifted me with coaching”
Bud Olszewski, Grace Brethren Church, Rittman, Ohio
Advice: Coaching is wonderful. I’ve been told coaching is not a popular activity for pastors and it is not easy for some, but it was easy for me. Coaching is a great avenue to impact people.
“The game is the best teacher”
Dan O’Deens, Gateway Grace Community Church and CPR3 Ministries, Parkesburg, Pa.
Advice: Preparation and training are as critical to coaching as to ministry. If you aren’t going to stay current with the culture of the game, you probably don’t want to coach. Coaching is not mentoring. Mentoring is telling the athlete what to do, while coaching is watching them play and asking questions. Coaching is for those who want to pass on what they have loved to a new generation. Do it because you love the game and you love people.
“Opportunity arises for teaching times about life beyond baseball”
Nathan Zakahi, Grace Brethren Church, Sunnyside, Wash.
Advice: Coaching is a great way to get to know non-Christian families with their guard down. Players and parents knew me first as Coach Zakahi before they knew me as a pastor. It is a great opportunity to set an example of Christ for them.
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 15:17
Coaching sports has its benefits, such as the enjoyment of working with youth or reliving the glory days of your own varsity years, but these are only temporary. The eternal rewards of coaching can be seen in the lives of the players, parents, and offi cials some Grace Brethren pastors encounter every time they step on the field, diamond, or court.
Bud Olszewski, Dan O’Deens, and Nathan Zakahi are three such pastors who spend much of their favorite athletic season on the bench, coaching. These men are living examples of how to balance leading a church with leading a team. By using their passion for sports, their lives tell a story of leadership in a higher calling.
A community takes pride in its school and even more so, its athletics. Th rough coaching soccer, Olszewski has seen an increase in church attendance, but more importantly, his church is seen in a positive light by his community of Rittman, Ohio.
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 14:46
It was a little taste of heaven as ethnic Grace Brethren pastors met September 13-16, 2011, in the Southwest to discuss U.S. church planting among their people groups. Gathering first at Native New Life Church (Arnold Betoney, pastor), a Grace Brethren congregation in the International District of Albuquerque, representatives of Haitian, Hispanic, Indian, Chinese, and Albanian ministries spent time in prayer for their various ministries. Then they moved on to Window Rock, Ariz., the capital of the Navajo Nation, for two more days of meetings.
Friday, 23 September 2011 15:20
Among those participating in commencement exercises at Grace College and Theological Seminary on May 14, 2011, were these men and women who, at their enrollment, indicated an affiliation with the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. They are listed by name, home district, degree, hometown, and home church. We congratulate these individuals:
Katie Adams, FGBC-Chesapeake District, BS, Waldorf, Md., GBC-Waldorf
Monday, 19 September 2011 21:15
I remember the time I thought I’d messed up my eye sight for life.
It began when I rolled my mom’s car. Flying glass sliced open my forehead and left eyelid, requiring surgery to repair. As a result, I couldn’t wear my contact lenses (the hard variety) for most of the summer.
Grateful that the stitches were the only result of a very serious accident, I complied. Glasses weren’t my favorite accessory, but the alternative was more alarming.
I was to serve as a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding. As my family left for California, where the nuptials were to occur, I had the blessing of my doctor to begin wearing the contacts. The only caution was to begin slowly, leaving them in for a few hours at a time.
I obeyed – briefly. The second morning on the road, I decided I’d wear the lenses all day. By the time we stopped that evening, my eyes were very tired. In the middle of the night, I awoke to a stabbing pain in my eyes. Soothing drops helped and I managed to fall back asleep. When I woke up, I could not see clearly.
Needless to say, the glasses went back on my face. The rest of the day, I curled up in the back seat with my eyes closed. When I did crack them open, there was only a haze of gray. My dread of wearing glasses (and not looking my best) at the wedding, was replaced by an even greater panic that I’d never see clearly again.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about vision – but vision different than physical eyesight. In his moderator’s address to the 2011 national conference, Bob Fetterhoff quoted Helen Keller -- “It’s a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”
He asked, “Is that possibly true for some of us?”
In that summer of 1975, as my dad steered the family car west, I felt I had no vision – literally. My vain desires only led to a series of fuzzy shapes along the road – no cheerful wild flowers waving their heads in the breeze, no gleaming ribbon of highway leading into the distance, not even glorious mountains on the horizon.
But sometimes we unknowingly lose our vision. How often do we follow our selfish desires only to realize it’s created a foggy future? How many times do we become so busy in the present that we don’t look beyond the current circumstances to dream about what could be.
Thankfully, as my brother and his bride’s big day approached, my eyes healed. I was able to view clearly the ceremony and reception through my contact lenses. It’s a silly, self-centered story now, but it resulted in me paying attention to my eyes so I could continue to have optimum sight. It also has served to remind me to take time to listen to the Father’s guidance so I can effectively seize His vision.
As you read this issue of FGBC World, I hope you’ll catch a clear vision for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches as cast by Moderator Fetterhoff. It’s a vision based on hours of faith-filled prayer as many have gone before the throne of God to seek His wisdom. It’s a vision that realizes eternity is at stake, time is short, and people are headed to hell.
It is, after all, a new day!