At the end of each year, we believe it is imperative that we take a look back and remember the ways we have seen God’s faithfulness to our church. These numbers and stories are only a brief snapshot into the vibrant life of Grace Church. They represent the growth, struggle, joy, and hope that we share in Christ as a family of local congregations. We are very grateful for the way God, in his mercy and grace, has provided resources so that we can continue to disciple, equip, and care for one another.
A single mother of a four-year-old and an infant, Kaitlyn Cox boarded a flight headed to South Carolina. Leaving her hometown in Florida, the new city held out hope of a fresh start and a better future. But, the new life she found in Greenville didn’t go exactly as planned.
Kaitlyn was raised in a warm, attentive household and educated in Christian schools. However, she did not attend church and did not know Christ as her Savior. As a young person, Kaitlyn sought out the attention of others to find her worth. But all she found was hurt, loss, and even dangerous situations. She describes her life at that time as a roller coaster, completely lost and out of control.
As she settled into her new life in Greenville, she met her neighbors, Morgan and Justin Davis. The Davis’s are members at Grace Pelham and invited Kaitlyn and her two small children to a weekend worship service. Kaitlyn was touched by the genuine care and unselfish friendship of her neighbors and the people at Grace. She was hungry to learn more and joined a Biblical Femininity Ezer study. She followed with Body Matters and continued to grow in her knowledge of worth and identity according to God’s Word. Where her value was once measured by superficial relationships, it is now measured by the standard of the gospel. As Kaitlyn puts it, “I was blind and the veil has been lifted.”
Kaitlyn is now a covenant member at Grace, baptized, giving, and serving. When Kaitlyn moved to Greenville, she thought she would be living out “the American Dream”. Instead, she found something greater in a church community, the love of neighbors, joy in giving her life away, and a Savior who showers her with beauty and worth.
This new resource provides a central place for all types of discipleship material including sermons, teachings, stories, clips, and articles. It is organized by topic and searchable across all types of resources. Please visit resources.gracechurchsc.org, look around, and share with friends.
Grace en Español campuses held a women's conference for 120 women across all three of our Spanish-speaking congregations. These women continued to meet in groups together for the remainder of the book study, Craving Grace, which was the foundation of the conference.
In January, we began a series of discussions on “The African American Experience: How We Got Here” in order to better understand our current situation in the Upstate and beyond, and to discuss how our church can help bridge some of the gaps that still exist. We have moved in several different ways in response to these conversations.
We make lists for all kinds of things—to-do’s, groceries, invitations. Daniel and Bonnie Kingsbury created two memorable lists: the first inventoried their worst nightmare and the second list, their greatest treasures.
The Kingsburys grew up attending church and comfortable in the routines of the Christian life. But, as their own family grew, they began looking for deeper community. At the time, they would have said their relationship to God was “fine”. They were “fine”. Their family was “fine”.
But it wasn’t until they began attending Grace, serving alongside others at the Travelers Rest campus, and participating in community group that they found what God had for them. They were finally known by others, and the foundation was being built for their next phase of life.
One October morning, after the family left for work and school, a fire started inside their home. Portions of the home that escaped the flames were damaged by smoke and water. The interior of the home and all their possessions were destroyed.
The day of the fire, their community group leaders, family, and close friends showed up to offer support, launch a meal train, and spread the word that a Grace family was in crisis. The circle of support grew and grew which meant their physical and emotional needs were met in abundance. Following a fire, the insurance company requires the homeowners to take an inventory of all items that were damaged. Often, this task can take several weeks as families tediously comb through the minutiae and account for their belongings. But with the help of their community, family, and friends, the Kingsbury’s completed this task in one day. Daniel and Bonnie made a list of all they lost—the inventory of their worst nightmare.
Temporary housing, rebuilding a home, and re-establishing a routine can get overwhelming. As Bonnie processed the difficulties with a friend, she was encouraged to make the second list—this one of all the people who stepped in to offer help. This became the list of their greatest treasures. As Bonnie began to write names, she was amazed at the number of people she counted and how it was changing her heart. The circle of her generous community became God’s tangible imprint on her family. She was filled with gratitude and peace that God was close and cared about the smallest details of their family’s needs.
These two lists became precious mementos for the Kingsbury’s as loss and fear became bookends to gratitude and hope.
After the loss of their child, Strad and Brooke were tired from fighting; they were angry, hurting, and ready to give up on their marriage. But one phone call changed the trajectory of their future.
Both grew up in Christian homes, attended church regularly, and graduated from the same Christian school. Their lives took similar paths as they chose to set aside their faith to pursue life on their own terms. Years later, social media reignited their high school friendship, and soon they were married. But without God as their anchor, Strad and Brooke’s relationship began to splinter into mistrust and frustration. When Brooke found out she was pregnant, their hopes of a happily-ever-after returned—but only for a short time. When the child passed away during the second trimester, their very foundation crumbled. That’s when Strad’s father made the call to a pastor at Grace to find help for his son and daughter-in-law. They were invited to join re|engage at the Harrison Bridge campus and they reluctantly agreed to give their marriage one last shot.
In their re|engage group, they were the youngest and most fragile, their relationship hanging by a thread. And God met them right there. God began to move, not just in the hearts of Strad and Brooke, but in the entire group. The group members leaned in with no ounce of contempt when the young couple shared their struggles; there was no judgment or condemnation as they spoke of their worldly wanderings. The men and women in the group simply loved them well and spoke the truth of the gospel through the power of the Spirit. No longer bound by shame, Brooke and Strad turned and ran toward Jesus.
As their love for Jesus grew, so did the commitment to their marriage. They know that their faith walk is a journey, no longer striving for linear perfection and still processing hurts and disappointments. Their happily-ever-after looks different than they thought it would, but the hope of forgiveness creates a unique new life as they walk together as one.
In January, our high school ministry taught a three week series on how to help students deal with the rise of anxiety in our culture.
Dr. Carson Felkel, the lead physician from Bon Secours Behavioral Health, equipped our staff in assessing suicide risk and learning to identify mental health issues while caring for our members and their families.
Grace hosted a breakfast for the Greenville Behavioral Health Coalition. Faith leaders from across the Upstate were able to come together as one to hear from educators and speakers on how to remove barriers related to mental health stigma.
Family Grace is a new support care group we offer for families and spouses of those with a loved one dealing with depression, anxiety, and other mental health difficulty or disorders.
+ 102 Leaders
+ 96 Leaders
+ 77 Leaders
+ 68 Leaders
If Grace held a contest for the most invitations extending to visit Grace, Dinh Diep would easily win. If you ever come anywhere near Dinh’s orbit of influence, he will ask you to join him at a church function. He said he invites his friends to learn about the Bible and about Jesus.
Dinh is an active member of our Mosaic GroupLife ministry, which is our worship and small group time for adults with intellectual disabilities. Mosaic GroupLife provides a dynamic worship time, prayer time, corporate teaching, and small group for discipleship and application. Mosaic GroupLife is designed to offer a strong biblical community within the church and to help members utilize their gifts to serve the church body.
Dinh uses a wheelchair and communicates through an electronic tablet, but he is never shy about coordinating his transportation to Grace or delegating tasks to others. He uses his gifts by taking attendance each week, creating agendas, and offering to pray for others.
When asked about his favorite part of church he responded, “I like worship with my friends and supper club on Friday nights.” Dinh will point to a life change experience where he learned about Jesus at Young LIfe Camp, and his leaders point to Dinh’s consistency and compassion for others. As a young man, Dinh is very concerned about his friends. He knows when they are in the hospital, suffering, or have needs and he lets them know he is praying for them. He has a kind heart and cherishes his relationships. One of his leaders said, “If I ask Dinh to pray for something, I know it will be done.”
Grace helped run a six week summer experience, Camp Impact, which included 220 Grace students, 55 student leaders, 25 staff members, and 120 campers. Also, 35 family members served on a spring break trip and 10 Men's Roundtable and Ezer leaders are doing weekend trips for Bible study.
We were able to resume trips to Nicaragua after a 14 month break due to political unrest in the country. Upon return, we completed our three year focus on training pastors in La Dalia that was interrupted and launched a new three-year training for approximately 70 pastors & leaders in Chinandega.
Three teams served alongside Hunger Corp. to assist in building and restoring homes for victims of Hurricane Maria. Three more trips are planned for 2020.
Jumpstart and Grace are now serving over 300 prisoners across five Upstate prisons in weekly discipleship classes. We have served over eighty participants in their Outside Program and donated $40k in dental work.We also provided a regional representative to lead program in 4 prisons in the midlands serving over 250 participants
We are leveraging our resources to build capacity with organizations with proven effectiveness in their areas of specialty. These relationships will also create discipleship opportunities for our church members to give and serve sacrificially. We Choose to partner with Homes of Hope, Project Hope, Jump Start, and Jasmine Road for their work in affordable housing, the autism community, the prison system, and women trapped in sexual exploitation.
This year our Foster and Adopt Resource Center moved to a new location inside the Taylors campus. This gives Grace a greater opportunity to serve and provide for families involved in fostering and adopting children throughout the Upstate. Not only do we offer clothing, toys, diapers, and equipment to Grace families, but we support the community as we seek to bridge the gap for over 1700 kids that remain in the system without homes.
This year alone we have served over 580 children. As word of the positive reputation of the Foster and Adopt Resource Center gets out, other churches and organizations have offered to partner with Grace. Parkside Pediatrics is collecting pajamas, students in Forge Pelham and the Upstate Homeschool Co-op beta club are collecting necessary items. Additionally, the women’s groups at Fellowship Greenville have asked if they could be a part of praying over and supporting the resource center.
Not only do we provide material items through our Foster and Adopt Resource Center, but we take our energy and put it back into supporting the Department of Social Services (DSS) in five different South Carolina counties. We have donated fully stocked backpacks for school-aged children, purchased new standardized quality car seats, and refurbished and regularly clean the visitation rooms. Grace works to help stock the DSS closet so that each child who arrives in an emergency situation is able to leave with three changes of clothing, toiletries, and diapers.
By partnering with the community, our collective influence is exponential. Not only do we want to serve the children in the foster system, we hope to love, care for, and support families as they pour into the children in their homes. Additionally, the gospel message gains credibility for those employed by DSS. Their work is difficult and underappreciated. Grace Church is moving into places in our community to show God’s love and show them with kind deeds that they are not forgotten.
Number of Givers by Yearly Amount
Your giving amount is unique to your situation and resources. Our church is built on individuals growing incrementally and intentionally in their generosity. A year-over-year decrease in lower amounts and increase in higher amounts is highly encouraging and shows movement overall from casual giving towards courageous giving.
We believe that everything we possess is a gift from God, especially the gracious gift of faith. Our responsibility, then, is to be a faithful steward by sharing and investing what we have been given. Because of God’s power and the generosity of individuals like you, we have seen a return on investment that has been felt worldwide. In the same way that the Christmas season helps us think about what God has done in our own lives, we hope this overview of what God has done in our church this year will lead you to gratitude and worship.