The following article was written by GC Kenockee Pastor, Grant Forsyth, upon the commissioning and celebration of their new church facility.
“Where in the world is Kenockee?”
So many times I have been asked this question; so many times I’ve used my “Michigan hand” to answer.
God is truly at work in the most amazing places! Kenockee is a small rural locale surrounded by farmers’ fields and highways that lead to other destinations. On one of these busy highways is a small block building that is home to our GCI congregation—In His Grace Community Church. On the outside, it is a building that is all too familiar to locals. Over the years it has served as as a carpenter’s shop, a convenience store, a fiberglass factory, sat empty for years, and finally, a church.
When Pastor Jim & Kim Meade purchased the building and acreage in 2007, another carpenter asked to set up shop in the rear half of the building while the church was being set up in the front half for our GCI congregation. The carpenter’s signs for his cabinet shop out front became familiar to the neighbors and his business began to thrive. The church signage was clear, but everyone seemed to know where the cabinet shop was!
God, however, was moving in this community. Through a series of many outreach activities in the neighborhood, the church began to grow each year from a dozen people to 20, 30, 40 and more—all from the community and/or people’s relationships. There are only 5 long-time church members.
Partway through this adventure, Pastor Jim passed the baton to me (Grant) as the new pastor in 2012, with Jim serving as Assistant Pastor. As the church grew in numbers, it became apparent that we as a church needed to purchase the building and property of 6 acres from Jim and Kim. Our small sanctuary was feeling smaller and the children’s program was in dire need of more space. In 2016 we began this process, wondering how God would bring it together. All we knew is that we alone were incapable, underfunded and unprepared. If this was going to happen, then it had to be by God’s hand!
Well, God began to blaze the trail. We started by working with the GCI home office in all the legalities, pastor coaching by Sam Butler, fundraising, and a lot of prayers! It was hard for us to visualize how this whole thing was going to come together. The most worrisome part was when we realized that the carpenter, running his business out of the back of the building, had to leave. We needed the space, but God knew this already. In fact, God had blessed his business to the point that after ten years of renting the space, he came to us to tell us that he had to leave! He had built his own facility on his own property and was moving out—just in time. No other business in this building thrived in the past, only his—and only while there was a church on the property.
During the two years of fundraising, many miraculous things happened. We are not a wealthy congregation, and yet, as we held fundraising events, which pulled in a hundred dollars or so, God was moving in other ways. As we were faithful in providing the fish and loaves, God was faithful in the rest. Other GCI congregations heard of our need and provided funding, of which we are so grateful. We needed enough money to purchase the building and property as well as renovate the old carpenter’s shop into our new sanctuary. The previous sanctuary would serve as a larger space for children’s church as well as the fellowship hall for mealtime.
Early on we adopted two Bible verses that captured “How” this would be accomplished and “Why” we are doing this. The “How” comes from Zechariah 4:6“…by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty” and the “Why” is about the harvest from John 15:5 “… you will bear much fruit, without me you can do nothing”. These two verses were printed on banners and displayed in the old cabinet shop overhead so that as renovation work progressed in that space, there would be a continual reminder of the “How” and the “Why”. By the Grace of God, we purchased the building in October 2017 and completed the renovations in March 2019.
To celebrate what God has done, a commissioning service was held on March 31st and led by Rick Shallenberger our Regional Director with 65 in attendance. A special coin was minted for the occasion that featured the two bible verses mentioned above in honoring God and his provision and grace. The commissioning theme was “The Great Invitation” (also known as the Great Commission) and the building was dedicated to the glory of God and His harvest! Pastor Rick commissioned the congregation and the leadership with the Great Invitation by Jesus into the harvest field!
Our next adventure? Healthy Church! We have much to be thankful for and much to grow into. Our prayer is that God continues to blaze the trail as we follow into becoming a more healthy church – Praise God!
“Where in the world is Kenockee”? If God knows where we are, then He certainly knows where you are too!