Like the Israelites in the time of Moses, Grace Community Fellowship in Hillsboro, denied permission from Hillsboro City Council to use a former grocery store as a church, is searching for a new home.
But like early Israel, Grace Fellowship remains vibrant. The church is on a mission to draw into its arms those who have turned away from, or been turned away by, other churches.
Senior Pastor Adam Utecht said the church was launched in April 2012.
“We’re part of a group called Fellowship of Evangelical Churches,” Utecht said.
There are about 50 affiliated churches across the United States, five of them in Kansas, Utecht said. Those five are located at Sterling, Newton, Hillsboro, Moundridge, and Park City.
The church’s message to the world is that no one is beyond the love of the Lord, Utecht said.
Shana Stepanek, a member since shortly after Grace Fellowship got started, said the way the church welcomes anyone is what made her want to come back after her first visit.
She and her husband were newly married and wanted to have a new church to attend together. She also wanted a church with room for her to be involved.
One thing the church had room for was for Stepanek to work in a Stephen Ministry.
“That’s the kind of church I want to go to, that accepts people whoever they are,” Stepanek said. “That church is making a difference in hurting-people’s lives.”
Brian and Holly Nickel and their three children found a comfortable church home at Grace Fellowship three years ago, after previously driving to Salina to attend church.
“It has an openness,” Brian Nickel said.
He also appreciates having fellowship with other believers and Grace’s activities for their children.
The church has a downtown office, but meets on Sunday mornings at Hillsboro Elementary School.
It’s possible the congregation will build a church on land it already owns, using money donated to its building fund.
The idea is to meet in a place that’s not “too churchy” in design, Utecht said.
“If you don’t go to church, if you’re far from God, you can be forgiven and God can transform your life,” Utecht said. “We’re just a bunch of broken people who want to make that known and make people comfortable.”