“If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.” Luke 3:11 (referencing John the Baptist)
There are so many reasons to love the community of Grace Episcopal Church. One very big reason for me is that we are living the teaching of the Gospels in several ways.
Through Feeding America, we not only work to get food to the hungry, but we offer a warm space with a hearty meal, and we provide toilet paper and laundry detergent. We are currently offering our Parish House to a refugee family. Every Christmas, we use a ‘star tree’ to help connect people who have two coats (literally or figuratively) to give one away to someone in need.
When I first came to Grace in the 1990’s, the church had a daycare – Grace Christian Child Care. It was a very forward thinking form of outreach at the time. Over the years since that time, members of the Grace community have participated in numerous mission trips – some geared towards adults, some geared towards the youth. The two most recent youth mission trips tied in with the work we do with Feeding America. Four years ago a group went to Arkansas to glean food from fields for Feeding America. This past August a group worked on an urban farm in downtown Detroit that gave its harvest to the surrounding neighborhood.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second, like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:37-39
The Grace community intentionally welcomes everyone. In addition to welcoming all those who wish to worship at the church, safe spaces for people who may be marginalized in some areas of society have not just been created at Grace, but have been boldly proclaimed.
555 Michigan Avenue has been, and continues to be, the meeting place for the Holland chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and Gender SAFE (Supporting All for Equality).
For several years, Grace worked with Good Samaritan and Community Action House to provide transitional housing and mentoring to families through the Community Housing Partnership.
Members of Grace have joined to peacefully march in protest of inhumane immigration policy and practices. In 2016, Grace Church provided a safe place for many to meet and to express their grief following the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting.
Members of our community are supporting and working with Out On the Lakeshore, and with Lighthouse Immigration Advocacy.
Grace has been participating in Faith Leaders for Justice with several other churches. This is a group of leaders (religious, secular, lay and ordained) working for broader acceptance and justice for and with those who find themselves on the margins of our community.
A Hispanic/Latino Ministry Committee has been formed to pursue ways that the church can be more welcoming and inclusive of Holland’s Latino community.
And there are many, many other ways that Grace reaches out.
But perhaps the most bold example of Grace’s outreach and inclusivity is noted in the bulletin every Sunday: “ALL ARE INVITED TO RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION”.
Submitted by Elizabeth Brubaker