*Grace Community Church was planted by the First Presbyterian Church in Dyersburg in September 2008 and became a particular church on June 6, 2010.
(Blog post written by Camille Kendall on June 7, 2010)
Back in November 2008, I wrote about the sudden and remarkable formation of a Reformed church plant in Union City. Last night, Grace Community Church made the transformation from "mission" status to that of a particular church. What a wild and exciting ride these past several months have been! What amazing things God has done on behalf of this body!
Last night's service was actually a mega-service, combining three distinct procedures. First, our congregation became a particular church within the Presbyterian Church of America. Second, our very first ruling elders were ordained and installed. And finally, Billy McGarity was ordained a pastor in the PCA and installed as our teaching elder. You can imagine this was a lengthy process, involving the proclamation of much Scripture and a great deal of prayer. Very serious charges were given – to the congregation, to the session, and to Brother Billy. Very serious vows were taken on the part of each.
The wife of one of our new elders told this story afterward. "Brady (a young boy) was sitting beside me, and he began to understand this wasn't just a regular church service. 'What's going on,' he asked, 'Is it somebody's birthday or something?' 'Yes,' Melissa whispered, 'It's the birthday of the church. Listen and watch and you can see it being born!'"
Her words to young Brady capture the excitement we all felt last night – the birthday of a church!
A ninety-year-old member of our new little church beamed during the celebration afterward, "Oh, the delight of being in a room full of God's people!" For twenty-five years, this gentleman prayed for a Reformed church in Union City – such faithfulness, to persevere in prayer for so long a time. And then, finally, to see his prayers answered! Reminds me of Simeon, in Luke chapter 2!
I am eager to see what God has planned for this new body in the months and years to come, and I pray that we will celebrate every new "birthday" by faithfully proclaiming the excellencies of Christ.
The fourth-listed fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is patience. Scripture teaches patience in the midst of suffering, patience in prayer, and patience with one another. These are hard things, and contrary to our nature.
The hardest thing is to have patience in awaiting God's will. And so, like the children of Israel, we are called to remember. As individuals, we recall and are thankful for God's ordering of the events in our lives, how he has worked in His divine and sovereign way to accomplish His purposes, both for us and through us.
How much more so are we, as a body of believers, called to look back on all that God has wrought in the life of this, His Reformed witness in our community.
Grace Community Church is now Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA). "Grace" – because we understand and teach that it is through God's grace alone that we are blessed with the gift of salvation. "Presbyterian" – because we believe this is the form of church government taught and handed down by the Apostles. "Church" – ekklesia, the assembly, both visible and invisible, of God's called-out people. "PCA" – because we cling to the biblical doctrines, recovered by the Reformers, that the Presbyterian Church in America seeks to share with a dying world.
Since our founding in the intimate confines of Union City's historic Jewish Center, we have been blessed with a new place of worship: the hundred-plus-year-old Associate Reformed Presbyterian building on the town square in Troy, Tennessee.
We worship now in a sanctuary where you can almost hear the voices of long-gone saints lifted up in praise to their – and our – Redeemer. In this beautiful setting, we have room to grow, room to teach the various age groups with which we have been blessed, and room to welcome visitors to come and worship.
In the context of our hope for the future, our pastor made an interesting observation from the pulpit. Our prayer and desire, he stated in essence, is to increase in number. But much more than that, our hope is to see the Church return to the gospel. So much so, that though our numbers in this congregation might remain small, the Reformed witness will grow in this community until we see evidence of it in every church in Obion County and Northwest Tennessee.
This is an ongoing task and we have joyfully dedicated ourselves to its fulfillment. Indeed, until Christ returns, the work of the kingdom, carried on by the Church and by you and me, is to be continued.