Roundup: eNews 400th Edition
In June of 2013, GraceConnect launched its weekly eNews. The goal was to help churches within the Charis Fellowship to stay informed about events and ministries happening all over the country. As a network of more than 200 churches in North America, staying connected was — and still is — an essential part of being supported and encouraged in our collective mission of sharing the Gospel.
Over the last seven and a half years, we have shared hundreds of stories of individuals, ministries, and churches who are impacting their communities by meeting needs, showing love, and offering hope. In honor of our 400th edition, here’s a look back at some events that have done just that, along with an update.
Although events have gotten smaller, cancelled, or discontinued in the last year, we can still celebrate how God has worked in the past and still continues to work. Within the past 400 issues, a few event highlights have been the Hagerstown Fall Fest in Maryland, the March of Prayer in Lexington, Ohio, and After Hours in Fort Myers, Fla., among others.
The 2019 Fall Fest, led by Sarah Butt of Cornerstone Community Church, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Hagerstown, Md. (Dean Pryor, lead pastor), hosted 775 guests for a day of games, hayrides, and food. According to their Facebook page, their 2020 Fall Fest was cancelled due to COVID-19, however another Charis Fellowship congregation in the community that was able to hold their own Fall Fest.
Calvary Grace Brethren Church also holds an annual Fall Fest, geared toward a smaller audience: the surrounding neighborhoods. Even with a smaller target-audience, they had an anticipated turnout of about 400 in 2019 and Pastor Andy Gannon confirmed that they did meet their goal. The 2020 Fall Fest took on a different look after COVID struck: the kids were sent down a “gospel presentation walkway,” which ended with 12-foot long tubes where volunteers shot candy into the kids’ bags. “The kids really loved it,” said Andy. Although more spread out, they still offered food to guests. They are planning another Fall Fest for October 2021.
In 2019, Grace Church of Lexington, Ohio (Nathaniel Foote, lead pastor), participated in The March of Prayer, a local event that was rapidly expanding across the area. What started with 20 churches spread throughout 50 different churches in Richland County, resulting in 100 hours of consistent prayer. The look of the event changed in 2020. “Because of COIVD, the meetings ceased,” said Ministry Director Andrew Pugh, “We are doing our own Prayer Walk as part of our Good Friday service. It will be open to any believers, but geared toward Grace Church members.
After Hours, a ministry started in 2018 by Brian Murray in Fort Myers, Fla., allowed individuals with busy work schedules to attend a late evening Bible study outside of church. Many of these individuals had work schedules that interfere with their ability to attend regular church, and others who are less comfortable with the aspect of going to a church building. Brian and his mentor, Pastor Rich Schneiders, were looking forward to what God had in store for their new ministry. At the time, Murray was attending his first year of seminary, but he is now the pastoral intern at Friendship Grace Brethren. In 2019, the group dwindled as many of the After Hours participants left for college.
Rich says the church is looking to create a newer version of this group, especially in light of COVID-19. Meeting in smaller groups will make smaller church gatherings possible. The meetings will take place on Wednesday nights in homes, “centered on regions for church planting,” said Rich.