Grace UMC Palestine Featured in National Magazine
Vision-inspired leadership has helped Grace UMC Palestine grow over 48% a year for the past 4 years. (This article is rewritten based on a story in the Steve Strang’s Report.)
Thriving on a repurposed country club campus in the piney woods of East Texas, Grace UMC Palestine is in the “middle of a miracle.” Rev. Phil Chamberlin’s ministry miracle was recently highlighted in a national Christian publication called Charisma Magazine. This church is living a story of grace and leadership that is becoming a story of growth.
“We were featured as part of the Steve Strang’s Report as an inspirational story to encourage other churches,” Phil shares. When Phil arrived four years ago the membership had dwindled to 35 and Sunday morning worship was held in an unemployment office. Phil would tell you that the experiences that followed taught him about vision, leadership and the grace of God like no other.
Growing a church in the Bible belt of East Texas, which already had 150 churches nearby, wouldn't be easy. But God opened the door to carve a niche that other churches weren't pursuing.
Several years ago, Grace UMC bought the abandoned 116-acre country club property with a building large enough for the congregation. In a first ever partnership of this nature, the church soon leased the golf course to a local public school. It was deemed a win for the entire community. After moving into the new property in March, 2014, Grace had outgrown the worship space by September.
The grace theme resonates with passers by. Grace is present at the entrance via two banners. One reads, “God allows mulligans” and the other says “God is NOT mad at you.” The article applauds a leader with vision who goes against the tide and believes in God’s power to build in spite of downwardly spiraling trends. The atmosphere of praise, second chances, prayer, transparency and kindness is resonating with area residents and leading to overcrowded worship services. Pastor Phil believes God is blessing the area with a sense of revival.
"People are hungry for the grace of God," Pastor Phil says, "They need a word from God and to know God is for them." Grace could understand that. The church had gone through a difficult 10 years prior with a scandal. Everybody in town knew about it. So God led the leadership team to a new tagline: 'The People of the Second Chance.' What better (witness) than a church that needed a second chance, becoming a place for people who needed a second chance with God."
After hearing the unique details, magazine publisher Steve Strang was prompted to spotlight this ministry to encourage others. He finds Phil’s’ vision for the property is inspiring. The church is breaking ground for a new worship center that will be open within the next year. Plans include establishing a prayer center, children’s ministry area, worship and discipleship school for future church planters and even a residential area on part of the acreage.
See Article in CharismaMag