SAFE HARBOR FELLOWSHIP
"Would you briefly describe what your group believes?"
Gladly, in 160 words or less!
This world is not an easy place to live in. We do our best, with varying degrees of success. But we believe that whatever our performance, nothing can exclude us from God's love. We rest assured of this now and forever. It's not that we deserve anything from God; quite the opposite--humanity falls short in so many ways. Rather, God has intended good for all of us since the foundation of the world and has provided for it through Jesus Christ. He tells us about Jesus in the Bible. His plan goes far beyond anything we can imagine, and God being God, he's bringing it about.
So we come together to keep this hope and faith alive and be reminded of our guiding principle--Jesus Christ. His Spirit is alive in us, and we are committed to him. He takes us out into this messy world we live in, and he works in and through each of us.
For a more in-depth look at our beliefs, we invite you to visit the Web site of GCI, our mother church, and sample the wealth of articles and videos there.
"Tell me a bit about your church's history."
Our denomination has a remarkable history. If you go to the "Our Story" tab on the GCI Web site (click here)
, you can read all about it. We were once a church with unorthodox, exclusivist teachings, but God led us through changes that some described as historically unprecedented. Our beliefs used to be based on the laws and holy days given in the Old Testament of the Bible, but we survived an upheaval that brought us face to face with God's amazing grace.
When eventually, in 2009, we adopted Grace Communion International as our new church name, our president, Joseph Tkach, explained who we had become:
Grace lies at the heart of our values and mission as a transformed church. Our spiritual unity with God and with one another is reflected in the word Communion. The word International identifies us as a unified body of believers who span the globe, sharing a common history and journey of faith. We are a church that God radically transformed.
That journey has given us a life-changing, hands-on grasp of the difference between law-keeping and trust in Jesus as the means for being made right with God. If you listen in on our discussions, you'll see. We treasure knowing Jesus as our Way, Truth, and Life.
"What kind of teaching could I expect if I came to one of your meetings?"
We are a fellowship group, so our meetings center around an interactive Bible discussion--there is no sermon. Our pastor leads with the purpose of engaging our minds so that biblical understanding can percolate deep into our real lives.
You don't need to be a Bible scholar to participate. Christ speaks to and through us all. We do find, though, that the anticipation of our weekly discussion spurs us on to personal Bible study as nothing else can!
When we contribute, it clears our thinking and helps us look inside ourselves. When we listen, it opens us up to new possibilities. One of the grounding principles of the group is that while we all uphold certain core beliefs, it's okay if our opinions differ in other areas, as long as we acknowledge them as opinions and make it safe for others to express theirs. It makes for a stimulating discussion. Newcomers are very much valued for the fresh perspective they bring to the table.
"Have you recorded any of your discussions, so I can hear what they're like?"
We record parts of the meeting for those who are unable to meet with us. So if you'd like to sample our discussions, you can. Return to the home page and click on Listen to open our repository of audio files.
"Are there other activities besides the discussion included in your meetings?"
We eat, sing, pray, share our lives, discuss the Bible, and take the Communion together. Members all take part in making it happen. The meetings are held in a private room at Denny's restaurant on Saturdays (that's the best day to get the room). Some group members come early and order a meal, but not all of us do--it's totally up to the individual member. When we do, we pitch in afterward to cover our costs.
Each meeting includes a brief time of personal sharing every bit as important as the Bible discussion. No-one is obligated to share. When we do, it gives us a chance to feel heard and accepted. It's also a training ground in how to respond in love. Our group likes to laugh a lot, but there are times when we share our deeper issues, too. Validating each other appropriately builds our sense of community.
After our Bible discussion, we hold a brief ceremony as Jesus directed, in which we use bread and wine to represent his death on our behalf. The Communion, as we call it, is rich with meaning and hope. Our group has chosen to do this weekly.
The meeting closes with a round of prayer. Anyone who wants to can pray aloud, supported and affirmed by the group. We thank God, urge him to finish his work, and pray for each other, our families, and the people we come into contact with.
"Are newcomers welcome?"
We'd love to have you join us. If you like what you hear and see, you won't be a newcomer for long.