A new sign on a Cedar Street church is intended to align traditional Christian beliefs with the 21st century.
Grace Christian Fellowship is the updated brand of the former Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church and much thought has been given to the new name, said Pastor Stephen Schneider.
“My family and I moved to this amazing valley in July 2013 and we truly love all the people here and all of the fruit — literally — and blessings that this valley has to offer,” he said. “Let me start off by saying yes we are still Pentecostal, but more importantly we as a church family want to be known as Christ followers, or Christians.”
The name change has generated many questions from the public, he said.
“Part of the reasons of why we changed our name is to help our church keep up with the growing changes in our society, and so that our new name would be a testimony to our community and congregation of what we are striving for and what we want to be known for.”
Each word in the name was chosen carefully, with the intent to describe beliefs of the congregation.
Grace — elegance, goodwill, mercy or pardon — signifies “something that we can’t earn.”
“It’s a gift,” Schneider said. “Grace is the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. It is freely offered to everyone and anyone who would like to receive it.
“It is our desire not only to understand and respond to the grace that God has given us, but also to exemplify it by putting grace into practice toward each other and to our community.
“We chose ‘Christian’ to let everyone know what we believe, and where we stand with Christ. A Christian is someone who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is our desire for people to know and identify immediately from our name what we are about, that we are followers of Jesus Christ and that we are striving to become like Christ in our attitudes, beliefs and actions.”
Fellowship means friendly association, Schneider said.
“We believe that God has created us as relational beings that need each other, and that God has given ‘the church’ many different gifts that must be shared so that we can help build each other up, to become fully mature in Christ,” he said. “It is our desire for us to share life together, not to be known as a religious institution of rules and regulations that historically has torn people apart and has not been a good representation of the lives that we are called to live together in unity.”
Schneider and the congregation of Grace Christian Fellowship welcome visitors to Sunday morning services at 10:30 a.m. at 2416 Cedar St. For more information, visit crestongracefellowship.com or call the church at 250-428-7418.