Today’s DesMoines (Iowa) Register carries this feature on Grace Brethren church planter Roddy Ehrhardt:
Pastor to bring New Direction to Ankeny
An Ankeny couple looks for a flock to begin Grace Brethren community. The Christian denomination is similar to Baptist.
By MEGHAN V. MALLOY, Register staff writer
March 13, 2007
An Ankeny pastor hopes that if he builds it, they will come.
Metaphorically speaking, that is.
The Rev. Roddy Ehrhardt, 52, and his wife, Mary, are building a new church in Ankeny, though not one made of lumber and concrete – yet.
“Right now, we are trying to develop a core group of people who believe what we do,” Ehrhardt said.
The pastor of 28 years is a minister in Grace Brethren churches, a Christian denomination similar to Baptists. Ehrhardt said the idea to start a new congregation, which will be called New Direction Church as it continues to solidify, came to him some years ago when he was a pastor in Dallas Center.
The couple live in Ankeny. When asked why he wanted to start his church in Ankeny, Ehrhardt confidently responded, “God had given us the call to do this. (My wife and I) went up to Ankeny and knew this was the place.”
The pastor said he held a March 4 reception in Ankeny that procured a handful of curious people. He said he has had other people calling him, wanting more information about New Direction.
A Chicago native, Ehrhardt had ministered all over the Midwest before moving to Dallas Center with his wife nine years ago. He works as a manager at Starbucks in the Ankeny SuperTarget when he is not ministering or focusing on building the new church.
“Working there is nice,” Ehrhardt said of Starbucks. “I get to talk to people there and form a bond with them.”
The Rev. Howard Immel, a Grace Brethren pastor in Garwin, said Ehrhardt has shown “courage” with the project.
“It’s not an easy task to try to start a new church,” Immel said. “Sometimes it’s difficult, and sometimes things fall in to place.”
Immel said Grace Brethren members consider themselves a fellowship of churches who rally together in times of need or otherwise. He said despite some challenges, Ehrhardt has “a good idea, the giftedness to do this, and a love for people.”
Immel, the chairman of the Iowa district mission board for Grace Brethren churches, said there are six congregations of that denomination in Iowa.
“It’ll be interesting to see what the Lord does,” Immel said of Ehrhardt’s desire to start the new church. “But we have confidence and absolutely support him.”
Those interested in joining New Direction Church may contact the Rev. Roddy Ehrhardt at 965-0831. Get details at www.newdirectiongbc.com.