Grace seeking to reach out

Published 8:35 pm Friday, November 13, 2009

The Grace Christian Church at 869 Shelby County 52, after operating under interim ministers for a two-year period, voted in August to call Tommy Morgan of Auburn to be the new senior minister.

Morgan was officially installed on Oct. 25.

“We must go forth as an inclusive community of faith where all people are loved,” said Rev. Morgan. “Our focus has to be mission-based and has to begin in our community.”

In 1997, 36 members of the Bessemer First Christian Church felt God’s plan for them was to start a new church.

They began meeting in the basement of Ronnie and Ruth Arnett’ home and lovingly called themselves ‘The Church of the Living Basement.’ Soon they moved to a Helena storefront on Highway 52. With continued growth, they applied to become a new Disciples of Christ church and chose the name Grace Christian Church. With the help of John Mobley, Regional Minister of Alabama and Northwest Florida, in 1998 they hired their first full-time minister, Rev. John Autry, who served until his retirement in the spring of 2007.

By April 2003, the congregation had purchased the nine acres of hilltop land for its current location and opened the doors of their new sanctuary.

Three buildings will fulfill the original plan, with the addition of the Chapel and Family Life/Christian Education Building yet to be constructed.

Morgan, also the co-chair of the region’s Reconciliations and Anti-Racism team, said, “The church has been silent too long. There is poverty in our own community. There is racism, though we can deny it. Racism is now more covert –– it is deeply ingrained into our society.”

Rev. Morgan hopes to put together an ecumenical group within the community.

“I hope to meet other ministers in the area and find out what the needs of this community are,” Morgan said. “We all have to remember that our perceived differences are man-made. As Christians we all agree that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.”

At Grace Christian Church, the Eucharist is served every week. At each 10 a.m. Sunday service, there is a special sermon for the children, prior to Sunday school classes for grades K-8. Nursery care is provided from 8:45–11:15 a.m.

Rev. Morgan will be joined at the end of this school year by his wife, Nancy, an art educator, and daughter Margie, 14. Older daughter, Heather McDonough, and husband Justin, are the parents of Morgan’s grandson, two-year old Shawn Patrick.

Though Tommy Morgan has spent most of his life in Auburn, he, Nancy and Margie all look forward to the excitement that change can bring.

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Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at