On November 12, 1989, Grace Fellowship Church met for the first time in the home of our founding pastor, Rob Raynor. I’m looking back at that one event now and realizing that it was two decades ago. Twenty years flies by. After twenty years of changes, lessons, laughter, tears, prayers, praises, progress, setbacks, I can’t help but be filled with awe at how far God has brought what is now Eastridge Community Church.
I can remember the early days, the few weeks where we met in the Best Western on Alcovy Road (I don’t even know what motel chain runs it now), followed by the months in the shopping center. I showed that location to a couple of our current staff members yesterday, and they were amazed at the thought of our church meeting there in its infancy. I think it was unprecedented for a church to meet in a non-traditional location in Covington, Less than a year after starting up, we moved into the tiny building on Flat Shoals Road for nine years; looking at that building now, it’s stunning to think that we stayed in that building as long as we did and that it’s still standing. We did double duty in 1998-1999, meeting at Eastside High School on Sundays and using the Flat Shoals facility the rest of the week; we were the first church in Newton County to meet in a school building (that was WORK!). In 1999 came the name change and building the facility we use today.
Twenty years is a long time. I’ve watched some of the kids who were here in the early days grow up and serve as adults; now many of their children are active here too. I’ve seen our pastors grow as speakers and shepherds and take on roles they probably never dreamed of assuming. I’ve seen this body of believers weather storms, small skirmishes, core leadership changes, and economic turmoil; I’ve been witness to circumstances that would shake a less grounded family to its foundation but only drove Eastridge to our knees and a greater dependence on Christ. We are truly a testimony that the strength and survival that can only come from God.
It’s not about a style of worship, although our contemporary music and casual style was what set us apart in our early days. It’s not about a personality, though I think for years we were driven by a strong leader and his personality. It’s not about a particular ministry, despite the fact that our ministry programs are strong. What it is about is surrendering to and obeying the will and direction of God and allowing Him to determine the vision and direction for His church. He deserves all the glory and credit for what has been accomplished at Eastridge Community Church for the past twenty years, and I am honored and privileged to be a part of His revolution here.
Looking back at the last two decades and looking forward to what’s ahead, I can’t help but think of some of the lyrics to what has become an unofficial anthem here at Eastridge:
“You’re the God of this city
You’re the King of these people…
Greater things have yet to come
Greater things are still to be done in this city…
Greater things are still to be done here.“
I’m thankful for the people of Eastridge Community Church, and I’m eternally grateful to God for what He has done and continues to do.
If you are in Covington this weekend, I’d love for you to join us this Sunday at 9:00 or 10:45 as Lead Pastor Scott Moore shares a special message entitled “Preparing For A Work Of God,” and hang out with us Sunday afternoon from 4:00-6:00 p.m. for our annual Fall Picnic.