A Highway for Our God

In News by Kim Eiffert

As Grace Avenue approaches its 20th Birthday this summer it is launching a set of bold new plans called A Highway for our God.  These plans include some important changes to the ministry of Grace Avenue.

Grace Avenue Becomes a Multi-Site Church.
At one time Grace Avenue United Methodist Church did not have a location except a temporary one.  In 2004 we established a permanent location on Main Street.  In 2019 Grace Avenue is officially becoming a Multi-Site Church with the addition of the 380 campus.

For eight years Grace Avenue has sponsored a new church initiative called Cross Way UMC located in the fast growing corridor of Highway 380 in Denton County.  Through a series of visioning discussions and conversations the Cross Way Leadership has voted to become a designated campus of Grace Avenue UMC.  On a surface level this may not seem like much of a change but in reality it opens several doors of opportunities as we attempt to reach a wider mission field that is not being reached in any other fashion by the United Methodist Church.

In this new strategy the resources of both Grace Avenue and Cross Way can be combined and expanded.  Later this year Cross Way will go through a rebranding process that will align it more completely with Grace Avenue’s Vision and Mission. Included in this work are three key factors:
1.  A concerted effort and dedicated plan to reach new neighbors in west Prosper specifically in the large new Windsong Ranch development.

2. The appointment of Rev. Courtney Schultz to be the planting pastor in Windsong Ranch.  Working with Rev. Alex Williams and Grace Avenue Leadership, we believe we are creating a great team to reach the 380 Corridor in new and exciting ways.

3. Identifying and securing land as a future home for this Grace Avenue north campus. This is the beginning of a long term strategy that will move Grace Avenue to plant other campuses on more sites in future years.

Modern Worship
On the Main Street campus of Grace Avenue UMC there are changes coming to the expressions of worship we have often called “contemporary”.  Our new “Modern” worship ministry will begin on Sunday June 23, 2019 every week at 11:00 am.  Leading our Modern Worship experience is a new team.  The team includes:

Rev. Joe Stobaugh (Modern Worship Pastor)
Joe has been on the Grace Avenue Staff for seven years as the Executive Minister of Worship and the Arts.  He will now lead this ministry and serve as the primary preacher for the Modern worship experience.

Jesseca Aziz (Outreach Minister)
Jesseca grew up in Frisco and attended Centennial High School.  She is a candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church and earned an M.Div. Degree from Perkins School of Theology in 2017.  Most recently she has worked as a Community Organizer for Faith in Texas.

Wendy Child (Modern Worship Director)
Wendy comes to us from Nashville, TN where she most recently has been pursuing a solo career in the music industry.  Prior to her time there she has been a worship leader in a variety of churches.  

We could not begin this new endeavor without the acknowledgement that we stand on the shoulders of so many who have laid the foundation and given many years of faithful and fruitful service to our contemporary worship ministry.   We will always be grateful for the talents of Laurie Hanson Roberts, Marcus Womack, Doug Cuny, Pete Miller, Fred Gleber, Larry Barnett, Bill Roberts, Doug Hammonds and a host of volunteer musicians, singers, ushers, and media personnel.

Sanctuary Worship
Beginning June 23, 2019 there will also be a change coming to what we have often called “traditional” worship.  On that date the new “Sanctuary” Worship will begin with a team of familiar faces leading at both 9:45 and 11:00 am. The Sanctuary Worship team includes:

Rev. Billy Echols-Richter (Lead Pastor)
Rev. Laura Echols-Richter (Executive Pastor)
Laurie Hanson Roberts (Sanctuary Worship Minister)

It was this team that started with Grace Avenue 20 years ago at its inception.  They will bring their immense experience and commitment to making the Sanctuary worship experiences impactful and glorifying to God. They will work closely with a variety of choirs and musical ensembles under Laurie’s direction.  This new structure will also allow for a balanced preaching experience as Billy and Laura share preaching responsibilities and explore occasional opportunities where they preach together.

Saturday Night Sabbath Worship and Communion Worship
Both of these regular worship expressions will remain in place at their current times.  Rev. Billy Echols-Richter will remain the primary preaching pastor, sharing this responsibility with Rev. Laura Echols-Richter.

In Saturday night we are saying good-bye to our Music Leader, Kevin Holliman who as been in that role for 14 years.  We are so grateful to Kevin for his amazing leadership in this ministry.  A variety of options are being explored for his replacement.

The Sunday morning Communion Worship service continues to provide a unique experience for those desiring the service of Holy Communion on a weekly basis.  We believe it serves an important role in our overall worship vision and strategy.

As is the case in all our worship services we continue to encourage everyone to find a weekly experience where through worship you can best express your love for God and neighbor.

Worship at Main Street Campus
Saturday Night
Sabbath Worship 5:30 pm

Sunday Morning
Communion Worship 8:30 am
Sanctuary Worship 9:45 am
Sanctuary Worship 11:00 am
Modern Worship 11:00 am

Worship at the North Campus (Currently Cross Way)
Sunday Morning
Blended Worship 9:30 am
Modern Worship 11:00am