Bemerton Parish

Grace Community:

An Ancient Future Church 

News from the Front

November 16, 2016
From the Home Front
Appeal of the First Order - The God Ask
by John D. Richardson
Dear People of God,
A while back I was having coffee with a fellow campus pastor. We were talking marathons. I told him he was just 18 weeks away from running his first. Within moments he was back in my face saying essentially, "You could fully fund your ministry in the same amount of time. Read The God Ask."

I made the my way through the book. Parts were challenging. If nothing else the book highlighted my angst about asking others to fund my ministry. But its main point was something that I could not dispute and could not shake. When I ask folks for money I am inviting them to pray about partnering with God in something He is doing. If He wants them give, He will reorder their priorities and direct them to give. I ask. He closes.

Toward that end, will you pray perhaps in a way you have never prayed before? We came here to Atlanta to plant a relational neighborhood church. God had other plans, a vibrant college ministry on the campus of Oglethorpe University. We walked into His plans, through the door He opened. Last Monday night we had more students in our home for Bible study than we had in church for worship on Sunday. Grace in its current form is on hold (see note below). We are all in for "the ask" for this ministry where God is giving great favor and that's on the campus of Oglethorpe University.

Three years ago we began work on a campus with no chartered Christian organizations. Some students even weighed in, "The only thing you can't be on campus is a Christian." Three years later there are four chartered groups and Christians everywhere practicing their faith. Sunday night a coll ege student was baptized. Another is making similar plans. Lives are being touched. Some are being changed eternally. Hear what freshman Evan Furst has to say:

"One of the primary reasons I chose Oglethorpe was because it is not a religiously affiliated university. Coming from a very small, very Christian high school, I was excited to dive into a world of diversity I didn't get to experience in those four years. I've loved getting to know and experience all of the different people and belief systems on campus and having an active chaplain on campus has made that experience even more exciting. While I get to learn other religions, I have a place to go to grow my own faith. Even outside of all of the numerous events involving the chaplain, pasta dinner, CS Lewis Huddle, Tribute, and more, I still feel that he is accessible outside of those if I ever have any questions or need to talk something out.

Chaplain John Richardson is actively involved in all of the Christian organizations on campus. He is wildly unapologetic about his faith and that has an influence not only on the already-believing students around him, but on the campus as a whole. Having someone so devoted to Christ on campus adds depth to the diversity of people on campus. The chaplaincy also adds a multitude of programs on campus. It seems like every time I turn around, there's a new Christian event to be a part of. Every different event attracts different people, so we get to know different believers on different levels pretty frequently. It is a hugely positive influence for those who are in such a developmental stage as everyone is in college. As I'm building the foundation for the rest of my life, being influenced by a chaplain who has such a strong passion for fostering relationships with Jesus is extraordinarily positive and comforting." 

Nations do not become Christian without youth becoming or remaining Christians in those early years of independence. And college ministries on the campuses of secular universities do not happen without Christians like you catching the vision and praying about whether God wants you to reorder your priorities to sustain the life of His work. 

Family, friends, bishops, clergy, churches, brothers and sisters in Christ in every form, will you pray? We are looking for commitments of 3 to 5 years to keep us planted right where we are, annual commitments of $1,000, $3,000, $5,000 or $10,000. Will you pray? Will you pray now and give us the favor of a reply by November 30? Drop me an email and let me know if you are all in. I am convicted to ask as this is about life saving and life changing ministry. I ask. You pray. He closes, whether yay or nay. If I can aid your discernment with or call or visit, do not hesitate to ask.

Meanwhile, as always, we would be honored by any gifts you entrust to us. You may mail gifts to Grace  Community at P.O. Box 190523, Atlanta, GA, 31119-0523. Additionally, some of you routinely give through the National Christian Foundation or NCF. We now have an NCF charity profile page. Check it out. Search for Grace Community. And below, at the bottom of this letter, is a "donate" button by which you can give through PayPal, the preferred manner for many in a younger generation. We are a qualified 501(c)(3) with determination letter in hand. Again, consider sustaining this small platoon as we battle ever onward.
With m uch love and blessings, I remain
 
Yours t ruly,
 
John for us all
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Dear People of Grace,

God often calls us to take extraordinary steps of faith. Abraham's journey began with "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." Abraham was not afforded to an opportunity to count the cost of what he was leaving behind or the luxury of knowing where he was going. He was to get up and go. And this he did.

God's calling on Grace in the same way. We are being called to pick up and go and that without an apparent destination.

Our days at China Grove are coming to a close. Christmas Eve (a joint service with Jesus Our Shepherd, our sponsoring church) will be our last service in our current location.

The Richardsons came here with the hope of building a neighborly neighborhood church. While we have been neighborly and many wonderful people have come through our doors, that dream has not come to pass in a way that leads to a sustainable future. Honestly, at the moment we cannot even cover the cost of our services on Sunday morning.

None of this negates our many blessings including all the lives that have been touched through Grace. We have had weddings. We have had baptisms. We've celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. We've grilled together investing in Lynwood Park and her people. We've walked the streets praying over invitations as we placed them upon mailboxes. We've shaped some for a season and sent them on to be agents of grace and transformation in other parts of the vineyard. To the surprise of all, we have watched a college outreach turn into a flourishing campus ministry. It has exceeded our wildest imaginations.

Mostly we have worshiped together exalting the name of Jesus. We have grown in grace. We have opened the Word of God and made our selves subject to the radical nature of the image into which we are being transformed. A pastor cannot ask for more than that. There are no regrets in that regard. The Richardsons have been blessed to watch the Kingdom advanced through Grace.

Where from here? We do not know. There has been talk of merging with another church. Perhaps a University Church is in our future. Conversations in this regard are underway. A devoted core team and Grace again in Peachtree Corners? Perhaps He will reveal, graciously we hope, that Grace has served its purpose even if unclear to us how. Still for the moment the destination is unknown. We had to take the first step away from our country of origin in order for God to reveal where He would have us go.
Our heart's desire is for the people of Grace to go with us. Because we cannot say where, indulge me that I might say how. Pray for God to put it upon your heart how Grace is to serve this part of the vineyard. Begin those prayers now. And in the weeks ahead join us for one of two or three dinners we will announce soon. We would love to hear what the Lord is putting upon your heart.

So Grace is on the move. Where do we go from here? Again, we do not know. But we embark obediently and faithfully knowing our Maker has a destination in mind. As I have said many times, we do not know what the future holds but we know in whose hands that future rests. And they are good hands!

Love and Blessings,

John for all the Richardsons


Sermons/Articles
Various Excerpts and Links
by John D. Richardson

Just in case you've not heard lately the drum I always beat! 

61 years after the Church became a part of the Roman Empire:

"And what is out condition? Love is grown cold; the teaching of the fathers is being laid waste; everywhere is shipwreck of the Faith. The mouths of the faithful are silent; the people driven from the houses of prayer, lift up their hands in the open air to their Lord which is in heaven. Our afflictions are heavy, martyrdom is nowhere to be seen, because those who evilly entreat us are called by the same name as ourselves."

Basil to Ascholius, 374 AD

The barbarians and the faithful are called the same thing, Christian. The barbarians are not at the gate. They are within it! Is it starting to look a lot like 374?

Some Recent Sermons/Articles:






 

Are you looking for a church, a called out people of God, in the Brookhaven/Northeast Atlanta? Are you looking for a one rooted in the faith once delivered to twhitbaptism he Apostles of Jesus Christ and yet fearless in its engagement of the modern world? One not fossilizing nor faddish?

 

Are you looking for a church where relationships, vertical and horizontal, are more important than the size and worldly success of an organization? Longing for a church that exist for the sake of others?
  
Are you looking for a church in which following Jesus is more important than being a fan of his?
  
Welcome then to Grace Community: An Ancient Future Church! Contact me by comment to postings at www.ancientfuturechuch.org or directly by e-mail at johnrichardson@ancientfuturechurch.org .
  
Blessings!
  
John Richardson
Missionary Pastor

 

Ways to Contribute
To contribute to "Grace Community" by mail, please send a check made payable to "The Church of Grace Community, Atlanta, Inc." and mail to:

Grace Community
3272 Lynwood Drive NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30319

Grace Community is a PEARUSA affiliated Anglican Church incorporated as a not for profit in the State of Georgia with IRS 501(c)(3) Determination. 

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John D. Richardson, Pastor
Grace Community: An Ancient Future Church
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