The beginning of a wild ride
Leading up to Grace Church's 25th Anniversary, we are counting down the days by posting 25 blog posts in 25 days by 25 authors (well, 24. Dave wrote twice). The post below is one of these posts. Need tickets to the 25th Anniversary celebration at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on September 11, 2016? Get tickets here: gracechurch.us/25.
BY PENNY RODRIGUEZ
The eye twitch is what I remember most clearly from the days and weeks leading up to the launch of Grace in 1991. I was so freaked out by the stressful idea of Dave leaving the familiar comfort of youth ministry to lead a group of 400 adults as their senior pastor that I developed a very annoying eye twitch. (Good thing I didn’t have any inkling of the type of numbers God really had in mind!) Another issue for me was I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be the wife of a senior pastor, and I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to find out.
I have very fond memories of the “warehouse days,” or what was basically a honeymoon period. It quickly became evident that we were on some sort of a wild ride. There was a new freedom to start with a blank slate, to part with “we’ve always done it that way” thinking and try new things. Some of the memories include baptisms in the dinosaur pool, the pig roast, nametags (I grieved when we stopped wearing nametags years later), welcome receptions after services, newcomers’ desserts, poignant/hilarious dramas, the Co-Mission, singing Great is Thy Faithfulness often and crying every time, learning how to play as part of a band (for the first year or so I WAS the band), exploring what it might look like to “redeem the arts,” and enjoying a deep sense of community unlike any I’d ever experienced.
Barry and Lucy were only 8 and 4 when we began, so they had to be dragged along to a lot of early morning rehearsals, etc. They don’t really remember much about “church” before Grace began, so they probably don’t have quite the appreciation for how amazingly different it was that Dave and I do….but evidently they were not too scarred by the experience of being pastor’s kids!
My main involvement and area of service over the first 23 years was through worship arts, in the band and vocal community. I also worked for five years on staff in the music department as copyright director and later performance music coordinator. Now as I get the joy of worshiping from the audience instead, I am always overwhelmed with gratitude for the incredible artists we have in our midst. We are unbelievably blessed with talent to be able to pull off such amazing music, drama, dance and art! And after working so closely with them, I can affirm that these dear folks are always striving to do it with selfless hearts for serving God.
I’ve also been able to take some wonderful, life-changing short term trips throughout our history, to Japan, a couple to New York City Relief, and to Ukraine. Currently I enjoy working at the Care Center on Tuesday nights.
In short, it has been such a privilege to be a part of Grace from the very beginning. I would have to say the trajectory of my life was irrevocably changed in 1991.
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Wow! What a sweet walk down memory lane, Penny! God has blessed you and Dave and the gifts you have offered Him in such a stunning way! My favorite line from your blog... singing Great is Thy Faithfulness often and crying every time,..."
Posted by Eileen McCloy Fritz on August 24, 2016 @ 7:23 pm
So amazing to share the journey...thanks for the window into the early moments, Penny!
Posted by Pam on August 21, 2016 @ 4:34 pm
Penny! What a beautiful reflection of those early years!!!! Some of my fondest memories in the warehouse were Choir rehearsals w you and Dave in the old kitchen where we talked about Fox Hill and your gentle outreach to the principal there for whose son I tutored at the time, the long gerbil tube journey from GKC and offices to the main warehouse/sanctuary, earth shattering Bible studies (Experiencing God) led by Ruth VanReiken (sp?). Later years, driving to your beautiful home to discuss music selections and arrangements for my wedding. You, Dave, and GCC were the spiritual ER who God used to work overtime in the recitation of what would have otherwise been terminal, chronic illness and certain death due to years of religious abuse and brain washing. You, Dave, Ruth, Laurie Hartman and countless others were so very patient with me with my theological questions and interpretation of the KJV that I grew up thinking was the 'pure Word of God'. Thank you. Thank you for not letting an eye twitch and comfortable nest of youth ministry hold you back from the Wild Ride God has so powerfully used countless times over the years to restore hope and healing. And a real relationship with Him as our Abba. I am forever grateful.
Posted by Kate Rice on August 19, 2016 @ 11:52 pm