Taking ministry outside walls of the church

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

Instead of holding a traditional Vacation Bible School at their church building, Grace Presbyterian Church in Chelsea took their Backyard Bible Club into the community again this year.

This is basically a VBS program that they take into neighborhoods, Pastor David Stephenson said. It’s an “attempt to go to the children rather than have the children come to us. It’s a way of helping develop community in the neighborhoods of Chelsea as well as encouraging our members to develop relationships with their neighbors,” he said.

Pastor Stephenson added that the program is “evangelistic and a way of potentially reaching out to those who perhaps are not comfortable with coming to a church.”

For this endeavor, Grace partners with an international ministry called Child Evangelism Fellowship (Cefonline.com).

For their “Friends of Refugees” ministry the church partners with several churches, denominations and organizations to serve 120 refugee children and their parents, Stephenson said.

According to the Friends of Refugees website (Friendsofrefugees.com), the organization’s mission is “to care for refugees through relationships and opportunities that provide for their well-being, education and employment as they become contributing members of society.”

A group from Grace Presbyterian is planning their third mission trip to the Clarkston, Ga. area, where approximately 60,000 refugees from 150 different ethnic groups have settled.

“We have over 30 individuals going to serve from July 30 to August 6,” Stephenson said. “It’s a great trip for the entire family to serve together and (has) had a deep impact on all those who go.

“We love ministering there,” he said, “because of the ability to impact so many different nationalities and countries for minimal cost. It’s a lot of bang for your buck when you consider how much it would cost to go to each of these countries.”

Pastor Stephenson and Grace Presbyterian Church can be reached at 678-2663 or Gracechelsea.org.

Shelba Nivens can be reached by email at Shelbasn@juno.com.