Grace Christian Church: An inclusive community of faith

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

“Many people in the Deep South are not familiar with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is strong in the Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Upper Midwest areas, but not so much down here,” notes GCC minister Rev. Brad Henderson. “There is much freedom in this denomination since we are non-doctrinal and non-dogmatic. We certainly follow many of the basic tenets of the Christian faith, but we also believe that there is much room for personal understanding of God based on our own experience of God in Jesus.”

Henderson says the Disciples of Christ does not make presumption that they have all of the answers, so starting with those basic tenets, they encourage the personal journey and offer guidance, fellowship and safe places to ask questions along the way.

“We practice dynamic and meaningful worship, life-sustaining fellowship, life-guiding learning and life-affirming service since these seem essential to the life and way of Jesus,” Henderson summarizes.

Kim Edwards tells that she was proudly raised as a third generation member of the Disciples of Christ at First Christian Church in Weirton, W.V.

“My W.V. church is rich in history being founded in 1830 through Alexander Campbell as part of the Stone-Campbell movement,” Edwards says. “That movement made the Disciples of Christ branch of the Protestant church grow to about 3,700 congregations in the U.S. and Canada.”

When Edwards moved with her family to Helena in 2001, she searched out a church that was like her home church.

“Grace Christian Church was still in a store front at that time working towards the beautiful stone church on the hill,” she said. “We attended other churches while still searching for that perfect church home.

“Finally, we found GCC around 2004,” she continues. “What a joy! They were so welcoming to myself and my children just like what I knew as a child. So accepting and not judgmental. Everything that makes you settle in and feel comfortable.”

A couple years later, Edwards even met her now husband there through music minister Phyllis Kirk.

“My husband and I became disillusioned after our dynamic pastor retired and felt the need to search for another church home,” she said. “But, after wandering around for a few years, and meeting many wonderful people at other churches in Helena and surrounding areas, we came home to Grace.

“The then new pastor of the church was Brad Henderson,” she continues. “My personal barometer for a great sermon is someone having the ability to relate scripture to everyday life, all while making me tear up a little with relating to the topic. If you also mix that with a healthy dose of humor and a tad of sarcasm then I’m sold. Brad Henderson does that like no one I have ever heard since our early days at Grace.”

On Sunday, Jan. 29 at 9 a.m., Grace Christian Church (DoC) will host a casual, interactive 75-minute workshop with John Mobley, Regional Leader of Disciples of Christ in Alabama and southwest Florida.

Those interested are invited to attend and stay for the following hour to participate with the congregation for worship and communion.

Grace Christian Church is located at 869 Shelby County 52 in Helena.