By Melody Pfaffenberger
Grace Community Church (GCC) is setting a new trend for Grace Brethren churches. It is joining with the congregation of the former Grace Brethren Church in South Bend to become one church with two campuses. On March 11, GCC, a Grace Brethren Church in Goshen, will broadcast a service for the first time to its new South Bend campus, a half an hour away. Worship services will be held both at the Goshen facility, located at 20076 County Rd. 36, and in Movies 14 on Edison Road in South Bend. The only difference is that the South Bend campus will be watching the sermon that Senior Pastor Jim Brown preached the week before in Goshen.
The South Bend location has its roots in the former Ireland Road Grace Brethren Church. Members of that congregation, with a desire to renew their vision, sold their property, relocated, and became Hope Community Church. Even with the best of intentions, they were unable to sustain momentum, and the Goshen congregation invited the members at Hope Community to join them.
Hope Community merged with GCC to become “one church, just in two locations,” according to Pastor Tim Boucher, who will oversee the ministry in the South Bend/Mishawaka area. Hopefully this is the first of many opportunities as GCC branches into communities to “one church, many locations,” according to Pastor Brown.
“Tim has a passion for the South Bend area,” says Brown. “There are 170,000 people in that area who need Jesus. The potential there is just incredible.”
It is easy to think of these two churches as separate entities, but both pastors emphasize they are “one church, many locations. We will eventually have all the elements of the home church, but we will stay connected,” states Boucher.
Boucher’s role as campus pastor will be to connect with people in that community. He will have a similar role as a senior pastor, but 75 percent of the time, the preaching will be done via DVD from the Goshen campus. The other 25 percent will be live preaching; giving Boucher the opportunity to share what God has placed on his heart.
Both Brown and Boucher have expressed a heart for reaching people and planting churches. “If we both were striving for the same thing, why continue to go about it separately when we can do it together?” questions Boucher.
Boucher said they are praying for 250 to 300 people to attend the launch, “Our main request for the first service is that people would give their hearts and lives to God. Wouldn’t that be a cool way to start?”
Sunday services at the South Bend campus will be held in Movies 14 on Edison Rd. at 9:30 a.m. Nursery and childcare will be provided. For more information log onto www.gracecommunity-church.com/sb.
Melody Pfaffenberger, a Grace College junior from Mishawaka, Ind., is an editorial intern with the Brethren Missionary Herald Company.