Grace Church Means Love. The first time I visited Grace Church was on Easter Sunday during my freshman year at Ohio Northern University. I was 18 years old. I will be 60 in May so you can sense that I
have some history with Grace. Del Grafner was the greeter that day along with David Brownfield. Del was her usual self - full of love, smiles and the Holy Spirit. She hugged me, welcomed me and told me I was beautiful.
After church she sought me out and asked if there was anything Grace Church could do for me. I thought a second and said that I needed to do an interview with a student and since I lived in a dorm I didn't know any children. She said, "Will a twelve-year old boy do?" "Yes," I said, and she hooked me up with her son David. While I interviewed David after church Del and her entire family waited around the church on a beautiful warm Spring Easter afternoon so that I could complete my college assignment.
That day I fell in love with Del Grafner and with Grace Church, and I remember that day like it was yesterday.
The summer after my freshman term I married the boy I was dating who belonged to Grace Church and so was adopted into the Grace family by marriage.
During our sophomore year at Ohio Northern, Del's son Danny became a freshman there. Grace had a new youth pastor and he drove up to school to take the three of us out to lunch, prayed with us and asked what Grace Church could do for us. After he left I remarked to my husband and Danny, "Now let me get this straight. Your youth pastor made a 5-hour round-trip drive up to Northern just to take us out to lunch, pray with us and ask us what Grace Church could do for us?" "Yes" they replied nonchalantly, and that's when this tough New Jersey girl was blown away by the love of this church. I had gone to the Catholic Church in New Jersey for 18 years and had not so much as received a post card!
By the time we graduated we had a young daughter and a job prospect in Hamilton. I joined Grace and was immediately placed on the Social Concerns Committee. I didn't know a soul in Hamilton and so I brought my young daughter with me because I didn't have a baby sitter. They were having the meeting in the classroom that houses Head Start now. Upon entering the room with my daughter, a rather portly lady suggested that I go in and she would entertain my little girl while I enjoyed fellowshipping with the others. How could she have known how lonely I was and that this young mom needed to be with adults and needed some respite from her mothering tasks? She was all dressed up in heels and a dress and stockings. It was a spring evening and as I gazed out the window of the classroom I saw her shoeless in her stockings frolicking in the grass with my daughter. I was blown away by her love and sacrifice.
What I am trying to say is that love won me over, not the pastor's sermons, not an attractive building, nothing but love pure and simple. Eventually that love softened my heart and then the pastor led me to Christ. It is that love I received so very long ago that motivates me to love others in return.
Sometimes, I think we get too caught up into the business and diversions of the world and ourselves and we forget that there are people out there who need love and need to be asked, "What can Grace Church do for you?"
Del, David Brownfield, Mary Gabbard, Blanche Stephens, Connie Fisher and countless other senior saints of this church have loved me, prayed for me, modeled for me that Love is the most important ingredient needed to move this church forward.
It's time that we pass this on to a hurting, lonely, tired and sin sick community and world. Many of our senior saints are now gone, infirmed or housebound and we owe it to them to keep the love going and to pass that love on to others. After all, I was only an 18 year-old kid. How could Del have known that Grace Church would become my church, and one of the major forces in my life. All she did was ask, "What can Grace Church do for you?"
Recently, I met with Del and we talked nonstop for almost 5 hours. When I got up to leave, she prayed with me, hugged me and told me she loved me and that I was beautiful. Arline Wenning
What Kind of Church are You Searching for? If you are looking for a church where you will be well-served; then you probably want to look somewhere else than Grace Church. If you are looking for a church where you can serve God and other people well; then we are the church you are looking for! If you want to be fed; then keep looking. If you want to feed others; we're your church! If you want to be served; then forget us. If you want to serve God and serve the needs of desperate people in this world; then you've found a home! If you want a church where the preaching and teaching makes you feel better; then keep looking. But if you want a church where the preaching and teaching confronts you with the truth of Christ, even when it is hard to receive; then you've found a church where you will hear the whole gospel!