Sunday, February 22, 2004

Church marks growth with new building



By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

[photo]
Pastor Brad Bigney (left) sings with churchgoers at a service in Grace Fellowship Church's new $4 million building in Florence.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MICHAEL E. KEATING

FLORENCE - Ten years ago, Grace Fellowship Church started out with $11,000 and eight adults meeting in a conference room.

Today, the church will see more than 900 in the pews of its new $4 million building at 9379 Gunpowder Road, Florence, and for the first time it will have two services - at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

"Our vision is not just to grow. It's not about the numbers. We are just interested in ministering to the people God sends us," said Assistant Pastor Steve Freeburne, who has been with the church since its start as an offspring from the Faith Evangelical Free Church in Milford.

The church now occupies a 30,000-square-foot building with an 850-seat sanctuary. When it opened the building in January, the church sent invitations to 19,000 families who live within three miles of the church. The congregation has already outgrown the worship space, leading to the addition of a second service, Freeburne said.

David Clegg, 40, of Villa Hills, started attending Grace Fellowship six years ago with his wife and three children. He was drawn to the Evangelical Free Church of America denomination because of its practical approach to life.

"Growing up, I had a heavy dose of hell and damnation, but not much on how God applies to my life," Clegg said. "Now what I'm learning out of God's word is helping me live my life to the fullest. I think that's what draws people. I think people are hungry for the truth."

The church has a Biblical counseling program supported by Pastor Brad Bigney, said Freeburne. Church volunteers participate in training and then offer counseling on marriage, addiction and relationships.

"So many times when people have problems, you look at the past," Freeburne said. "We feel your past is your past, and we look at what in your life do you need to change."

Bud Sennell, 58, of Florence, has been a volunteer counselor for three years and finds the work rewarding.

"The Bible is a manufacturer's manual: 'How do I correct the problems in my life?' We think the Bible gives us the instructions," Sennell said. For more information on Grace Fellowship, call 859-371-7880 or visit www.graceky.org.




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