“I am in it for the long haul. If God called me to care for these people, I was going to be faithful,” says Eric Durso, who is now the lead pastor of Grace Rancho, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., as he reflects on God’s faithfulness to the revitalized church over the last year.
The congregation of Grace Rancho (formally known as Grace Fellowship of Alta Loma) is a product of what churches within the Charis Fellowship are known for: caring for one another, training leaders, and mobilizing existing churches to plant new fellowships.
Three years ago, Grace Fellowship of Alta Loma had become a struggling congregation. Simultaneously, the pastors of Grace Church of Simi Valley, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Simi Valley, Calif. (Jordan Bakker, senior pastor) began praying about expanding their ministry with the possibility of either planting a new church or rejuvenating an existing one.
In early October of 2017, Simi Valley was invited to attend a meeting of the Southern California-Arizona district ministerium (now operating under Grace Churches Network) to discuss the plans of Alta Loma after Roy Halberg’s (the lead pastor at the time) retirement. At the meeting, Roy expressed that the church needed to be revitalized. Upon hearing this statement, the pastors of Simi Valley felt as though God had answered their prayer to rejuvenate an existing church.
It was shortly after the conversation with Alta Loma that Eric Durso was commissioned to take on the task of restoring the church back to health. Eric began praying every day about the mission that was laid out before him and some members of Simi Valley became interested in joining Eric in the process.
Thanks for your participation this year in our Grace Leaders Network Gatherings around our region. As a quick recap:
September 2018 – We had a conversation with Tom Avey from the Charis Fellowship, Nathan Bryant from Assist Church Expansion and interacted with our national Position Statements at Grace Church of Orange.
November 2018 – A trip to Grace Fellowship in Cherry Valley was highlighted by an excellent challenge about Grandparenting from Larry Fowler (Legacy Coalition) and Steve Williams !
December 2018 – Was an attempt at bowling, but we “spared” our time with some conversation with those who showed up. Plus our friends at Grace Brethren Simi Valley High School won the State Championship in Football!
January 2019 – Was our first visit to the Revitalization project at Grace Church in Rancho Cucamonga with a “Wildfire” presentation about prolific sharing of the Gospel from our own Missional Advocate Ed Waken. Many of us gathered for the FOCUS Retreat at the end of the month at a great retreat center in the Santa Monica area.
February 2019 – We took a break.
March 2019 – Had us at Grace Long Beach for the first time in a long time and we were challenged with a Worship Conversation by worship leaders from our network.
April 2019 – Was a trek toward the poppies and Canyon Lake to visit New Hope Church and Hope Learning Academy for at-risk high schoolers plus hear some stores from Israel.
May 2019 – Closed our year with a much needed conversation about lust and pornography plus how we battle and minister in the quaint quarters of Grace Community Church in Seal Beach.
The Eagle Commission serves as a strategic link between the people of Charis Fellowship congregations and its representative military chaplains around the world. The Eagle Commission offers the means to express support of the chaplains and their ministry and to keep updated on their latest news and prayer requests.
The Eagle Commission is producing a series of videos for use in churches and on its website about the ministry of our chaplains.
Our first video is linked to Memorial Day and is ready for your church to use on Memorial Day weekend. It focuses on one aspect of chaplain ministry — that of providing pastoral care and ministry in the midst of combat when a service member is killed in action (KIA). Army Chaplain Billy Graham tells his story of ministry in Iraq in spring 2003 when one member of his unit is killed. The story is crafted in such a way as to remind all of the need to pray for our chaplains but also to remember that the sacrifices of our service men and women secures our religious freedom here in the states.
Grace Brethren Church in South Pasadena, Calif. (Terry Daniels, pastor) is on the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation’s first historic church tour tour on Sunday. The tour is noted in the Pasadena Star-News among things to do this weekend in the region. A portion of the story appears below. Click here to read the complete listing.
Architecture of Faith: South Pasadena Preservation Foundation’s first historic church tour from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The tour will include Grace Brethren Church, Calvary Presbyterian Church, St. James Episcopal Church, South Pasadena Christian Church, Holy Family Catholic Church …
In May, our Grace Leaders Network gathering will spend some time focusing on pornography, especially on how to help those we are leading (and ourselves) have hope there is to see change and restoration in this area.
Our guest speaker will be Jerry Davelaar (MA, M.Div.), a member of Grace Community Church of Seal Beach who works in private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Jerry spent 15 years as an associate and senior pastor prior to returning to his work as a therapist. He has been married to Jean for over 40 years and they have three married children and five grandchildren. You can read more about Jerry here.
We will also have time to fellowship, pray and some personal testimonies from other leaders in our region! We hope you’ll put this on your calendar now:
A story reposted here from Grace Connect about one of the ladies from our network of churches!
One of the many ways Jesus connected with those around Him was through sharing a meal together. He would often be found eating inside the homes and at the tables of sinners. One of His last acts of ministry before heading to the cross was what we call the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-23). He invited His disciples to come to the table to share a meal together before His final act of love here on earth.
Come to the table, is Donna Najera’s of Grace Church of Simi Valley’s (Jordan Bakker, lead pastor) slogan for her Instant Pot and meal planning ministry called Cooking with Donna. A Christian of 30 years and part-time staff member at Grace Church, Donna received an Instant Pot as a gift in September 2017. When Donna finally worked up the courage to use her new device, she realized how easy it was to cook delicious and healthy meals in minutes which then allowed her to spend more time with her family – and less money in the process! Little did she know that this household appliance would lead to many opportunities to share the Gospel and the love of Jesus with near to a hundred people over the last year.
It’s that time of year…to renew your membership to our networks– as leaders and as churches!
Membership to the Grace Leaders Network is open to all church and ministry leaders in harmony with the Grace Churches Network. For only $25 annually you can support our network to bless you and other regional leaders.
We request (per our bylaws) that each church which is a member of the Grace Churches Network contribute annually a fair dues amount. Annual dues are only $1 per Church Member.(Note: The National Charis Fellowship dues are based on another figure.)