Faith communities have been an essential aspect of my life. Since I retired from ministry, I have been blessed with two churches in particular. Columbus Reformed Presbyterian (Columbus, Indiana) and Grace Church PCA (Rochester, New York). I find it very reassuring that while I am leaving Grace PCA, I will have a spiritual family in Columbus RPC to call home.
Still, there is much I am grateful for and want to celebrate with Grace. When I first showed up in Rochester, I was essentially homeless. A downtown church had paid a three-day voucher for me to stay at the Cadillac Hotel. I was grateful for the mission of this generous church, but it was not a good fit theologically or socially.
I had researched PCA churches since I first read Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. I was drawn to their commitment to Biblical truth as well as Christ-centered mission. This mixture of purity and compassion meant so much to me that I traveled 1 hour and 45 minutes on two buses (each way) to get there.
Before I had even worshiped at Grace, the Pastor, Marc Swan met me for coffee and listened as I shared my story. Separation from my wife. My battle with bipolar. Leaving behind the church that seemed to leave me. My temporary homelessness. He asked what the church could do to help. I said, “Just pray. And allow me to worship as I heal.”
At that time Grace was meeting at a Seventh-Day Adventist church while they looked for a place to call their own. One of the first things that struck me was the beautiful music. Mostly stringed instruments, played with a spirit of reverence I hope to one day hear in Paradise.
Pastor Marc delivered the message, in a way that was both engaging and inspiring. He gleaned truths from Scripture and served them up to us as nuggets of spiritual nourishment for our minds, bodies, and souls with the simple yet vast beauty of God’s world and God’s ways.
When I moved back to Rochester after spending four years in Indiana, I discovered to my delight I would no longer need two buses and 1 1/2 hours to get to sleep. Grace had moved to within three blocks of my apartment. They had also given birth to a daughter church, New City Fellowship — Beechwood.
Grace PCA has nearly everything I look for in a church. Encouragement for spiritual growth. Engaging Growth Groups for Bible study and prayer. Fellowship opportunities to get to know various members and friends of the church. And worship that is faithful to Scripture and relevant for our culture.
There are plenty of people I will miss from Grace when I move, but the one I’ve grown closest to is Carl S.. Carl is an elder who quickly took me under his wings, taking me for walks in the park (I could barely keep up), sitting down over coffee, discussing the Bible, church life, and faithful living. Carl taught me the value of staying fit, particularly treating your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. In good weather, he averaged 22 miles on his bicycle. And in the winter he was king of the slopes. Carl is 72 years old. When I grow up I want to be just like him.
Grace Church is a fellowship of Christian believers who celebrate God’s grace and proclaim the message of Jesus Christ in word and deed to the communities of Greater Rochester.