Grace Fellowship was started in 1993 by a small group of people with a passion for reaching the un-churched and the under-churched through community outreach and contemporary worship. After meeting on Sunday nights at Central College for a year and a half, and with prayer and monetary support from both Calvary and Faith Christian Reformed churches in Pella, this small group of believers took a step of faith. Grace Fellowship became “official’ as Pastor Peter Kelder was hired and regular Sunday morning services were scheduled in August of 1995.
A major milestone in Grace Fellowship's journey was constructing our own church building. On a Sunday morning in 2002 we all walked from our old building to the spray-painted outline of our new worship center and praised God for the wisdom, guidance, and resources required to make this dream a reality. As the building was constructed many of our members, young and old, covered the internal structure with favorite Bible verses and promises of God’s blessings for the future.
In our tenth year we not only celebrated Grace’s growth from a start-up to a thriving, established church, but also said goodbye to Pastor Kelder and his wife Ruth, who had played such a vital role in establishing and growing Grace. We shared many celebrations that included the profession of faith of 8 young men, welcoming three new members, and baptizing both an adult and a child into God’s kingdom! Our leadership team and Council revisited and revised Grace’s mission/vision statement, allowing the many new people who had joined to engage with our purpose. From 2005-2007 Grace continued to thrive and grow, even though we were without a Senior Pastor.
From 2007-2017 a number of pastors with varying roles led our congregation. In 2007 Roger DeWaard was installed as our next pastor. Roger had gone through a leadership training program at another local church. After serving for nearly four years, Pastor Roger decided to return to his previous career.
Jeff Scherer came to Grace as Interim Pastor for the next two years, preparing us for our next leader and overseeing the pastor search process. As a result, on September 1, 2014, Pastor Don Ridder was hired as Senior Pastor. However, in early 2017, Don received a call to pastor a growing church in Costa Rica and decided to pursue his passion to be part of an international ministry at the Escazú Christian Fellowship.
In July of 2017, Grace hired Piet Van Waarde as Interim Pastor. Pastor Piet has encouraged Grace to pursue our God-given mission in the Pella community and renewed our energy to revitalize Grace’s ministry.
Grace Fellowship has a deep and active ministry to the Pella community through several different avenues, including our annual participation at the Tulip Time Festival. Another community ministry has been “Grace Bombs” through which several members from the church simply show up in a community, trailer court, or block of a street and start serving a meals & ice cream!
Grace currently has a strong outreach program to the under-served youth in the Pella area through our Wednesday night program, which serves between 35-50 youth each Wednesday evening. The kids meet at the church for a home-cooked, sit-down meal before going to their age-appropriate Bible classes. In addition, this past spring Grace helped organize and hosted an event for middle school and high school students called “Never Alone,” which addressed the problems of mental illness and suicide. A Sustaining Congregational Excellence grant brought about “Project Second Chance,” which has the goal of offering young people an opportunity to do community service work at the church and connecting them with a trained mentor from the church who can assist the young person in schooling and other activities.
Pastor Piet continues as Grace’s Interim Pastor and senior leader, helping to guide in the planning stages of starting new small groups and growing and developing new leaders. Because of its mission to “Reach Up, Reach Out and Grow Together,” Grace Fellowship has become a beautiful tapestry of members from a broad range of denominations and backgrounds. We eagerly anticipate what God has in store for his people at Grace.