Grace & Truth Community Church had their first Service on October 2, 2011. Pastor Bob Schilling was working half-time as an Associate Pastor at Living Water Community Church in Vancouver, WA and from home another 20 hours a week as a Research Assistant for the local author Randy Alcorn.
Bob and others who knew him felt that God was calling him to a shepherding role that would allow for regular preaching and teaching. Bob began to explore some potential preaching-pastor positions and in the midst that the idea of starting another church on the other side of town was suggested by another friend in the Vancouver area.
A Meeting place option opened up with a new family at Living Water and Pastor Jeff Seavey asked Bob what he thought about the possibility. In answer to some heart yearnings, the offer of a meeting place happened on Bob’s 50th birthday. Bob had been praying that God would make things plain by that day and with the encouragement of some things coming together, Bob began to research and prepare a proposal for how he might be sent with any families that wanted to join him in the starting of another church in Vancouver.
Though a different meeting place ended up being the launching spot for Grace and Truth – without the timing of that initial possibility, things easily could’ve went a different direction. We’ve seen that many times in our brief history. God has had just the right people or opportunities at just the right time to keep us going and growing. Another huge factor in leading to the start of GTCC was an email from Randy Alcorn telling Bob, that if he could do it, they could use him for 40 hours a week (this was summer/fall of 2011). This gave the necessary base for Bob to be able to try to start the church with whoever God might send to make a go of it.
An announcement was made at Living Water Community Church by Pastor Jeff at the beginning of September, 2011 inviting any families who wanted to go, and as noted above, we had our first service a month later at the “Boxcar Room” of the 40-et-8 Bingo Building on 78th Street. Five other families joined us. Over the next year Bob reduced his hours working for Randy Alcorn to 20 – and now works 5-10 hours a week for him as well as a Security Officer position.
There are better ways to start a church and wiser ways to plant a church. Living Water wasn’t in a position to formally plant another church – but they were behind the sending of Bob and whoever would join him, with the prayer that God would provide our needs and that another church in the city would be used of God to feed sheep and see sinners brought to Christ.
It’s been a challenging couple of years. Some families have come and some families have gone. As of the launch of this new website (January, 2014) we have a dozen regular families, or parts of families with others visiting here and there. Our only concern with numbers is that we’re convinced that over time, if God is building this local church, He’ll provide the means, financially and otherwise for us to be sustainable. We’re starting a Youth Group; we have bi-monthly Men’s and Women’s Studies and a Home Fellowship Group that meets twice a month also.
The Lord has blessed us with a very adequate and nicely affordable meeting place at the Hazel Dell Grange. He has met our needs and blessed us with a terrific core group of people. We’re able to give currently about 10% of our offerings to other ministries, missionaries and needs. We’re excited about having a new website – Pastor Bob is thrilled to finally be blogging regularly. We’re praying for God to give us musicians and other elders, and we’re longing to see people who don’t know Christ, come to a saving knowledge of the King of Glory.
This church is not in any way Pastor Bob’s church – there are a handful of people without which this church would never have come into existence or persisted this far. But it isn’t their church either. Every true local church is Jesus’ church. We believe that He ultimately planted us; that He sustains us, that He has purposes for us and that as long as He prospers our existence, our pursuit is to be true to His word (Acts 20:27), faithful to His gracious gospel (Acts 20:24), useful in this broken, sinful world (2 Tim. 2:21) and pleasing in His sight (Rev. 2-3).