Two recent Grace Seminary graduates, and a third who is a current student, have begun ministries with Grace Brethren congregations in Florida. They join two others who moved to Florida in recent years to help lead an existing ministry.
Alex Gimmi and his wife, Sarah, have joined the staff of Iglesia Comunal La Esperanza in Valrico, Fla., to lead the English-speaking congregation that shares the campus with the Spanish-speaking church. Hope Community Church has been meeting for the last seven months. Alex and Sarah moved to Florida this summer from their home in Ohio.
Andrew Leasure, with his wife, Katty, and children, Noah and Iliana, recently arrived at Grace Church, Sebring, Fla. (Randy Smith, senior pastor), where he will receive additional training, finish his classes at Grace Seminary (toward an M.Div. degree), audit classes at the Great Commission Bible Institute, and develop a team to join his family at Grace Church in Lakeland, Fla., which recently became the third campus for the Sebring church.
Matthew Niemier, has been called to be the development pastor at Friendship Grace Brethren Church in Fort Myers, Fla. Most recently, Matt has served as pastor of Blue River Church in Columbia City, Ind. He and his wife Hope, and their two children, Layton and Reese, are in the process of moving. He will focus on reaching people 45 years of age and younger, seeking to build a group of young adults to minister to and within the Fort Myers and Lee County area. He also will be sharing the preaching and teaching duties with lead pastor, Dr. Rich Schnieders, when the family arrives in September.
Since last year, Todd McQueen and Michael Lockstampfor have been providing leadership at Grace Church in Ocala, Fla., which is also a campus of the Sebring church.
“Pastor Matt will be the fifth recent Grace Seminary student to come to the Florida District to partner with some guys who ‘have been around the block a time or two’ in Florida,” noted Schnieders, who serves as district chairman. “I am thrilled to see these young men come to the district to be involved in ministry with us. We have sensed God preparing us in our church and in the District for fantastic things as we step out in faith and as these men follow the call of God in faith.”
“We have been blessed over the past couple of years with some great men who are products of Grace Seminary, and are thrilled for the opportunity to share in their continued training to make an impact, not only in Florida, but around the globe for the spreading of the Gospel,” adds Matt Wheelock, associate pastor at the Sebring church.
The Florida District invites Grace Brethren people to stop in when visiting the state on vacation. “Worship with us and enjoy the Sunshine State,” said Schnieders, “or as we like to say in Florida the SonShine State.”