Here’s a little history lesson on the Grove Presbyterian Church:
Hickory Grove Presbyterian church was founded in 1957 in the Hickory Grove neighborhood ofEast Charlotte. A lot has changed since then. In the beginning this was a little country church by a lake. Now, we’ve turned the lake into a soccer field and our church stands in the middle of one of the city’s most populated urban neighborhoods. But the most important things have remained constant. We still gather each Sunday to praise God in song, hear the word and share the sacraments. Many people have moved in and out of ourneighborhood—but God remains steadfast.
Most churches are pretty active on Sunday mornings, and if you visit then you’ll find us studying scripture and sharing our faith in Sunday school classes, praising God and sharing prayers during worship and sharing punch, cookies and conversation in our fellowship hall after worship. These things bring us joy and strengthen our faith. But we think the greater testimony happens if you visit us during the week.
Start by looking outside the church. Around back you’ll see children playing soccer underneath the bi-lingual ‘Jesus loves soccer players and fans’ scoreboard; in the front, you might see the pre-schoolers from our very high-quality, affordable Hand-in-Hand preschool
chasing one another on the playground. Each morning, volunteers gather in the kitchen to pack and distribute meals for Friendship Trays. Wander the hallways after school lets out and you’ll find college stu
dents tutoring elementary students, dancers dancing in the fellowship hall, one classroom of kids imagining their own superheros as they create Christian comic books while another class turns recycled materials into art. In the evenings, the rooms fill up with girl scout troops and neighborhood associations and the gym echos with the bounce of basketballs. And in the summer, we turn the whole place inside out as we transform each room into a special gathering for one of our classes of FreedomSchoolscholars.
We believe God planted this church some fifty years ago for just such a time as this. Our neighborhood faces some serious challenges, and we are grateful that God has given us the opportunity to witness to the light of Christ here. We believe that Jesus Christ has the power to change lives. We know, because he’s changed ours. We pray our ministry and witness will glory Christ.
We’re ordinary people—gifted and sinful just like everyone else. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t agree about everything. What unites us is our common decision to follow Christ. We believe Jesus is the son of God, and that he left the glory and majesty of heaven to come to earth and be servant to all. We desire to follow his example. We exist as a church to serve Christ, not ourselves. And the unexpected thing is—when we put worshiping and serving Christ at the center of our lives, we find a deep and abiding joy. We’re praying that God will send others into our church family. We believe God can use us to be a blessing to others. We know that we will be deeply blessed by those God calls to join us here.
We voted to change our church name and accepted the challenge to grow intentionally as a strong community church.
Dear Friends of Hickory Grove Presbyterian Church,
Hickory Grove Presbyterian Church is preparing to change its name in January of 2012. There are many practical reasons for this change. Visitors often drive up and downHickory Grove Roadsearching fruitlessly for our church. The church office receives an average of 3 calls a day from folks looking for HickoryGrove BaptistChurch…orHickoryGroveBaptistChristianSchool…orHickoryGroveUnitedMethodistChurch. Our name makes sense to long-time residents of this community–they know this whole neighborhood as ‘Hickory Grove.’ But these days many people only knowHickory Grove Road, and they simply can’t find Hickory Grove Presbyterian Church onEast W.T. Harris Blvd.
But for us, the name change is about far more than a pragmatic affair. We are changing our name to mark a new beginning in the life of this body of believers. Over the past three years, we have heard God calling us to reach out and be church with our neighbors. We’ve always known that God wants us to open our building to the community–but recently we’ve heard that God wants something more from us: God wants us to open our hearts. We desire to share our lives, our faith, our friendship and our worship with our neighbors. Simply put, we want to build something new on this beloved foundation. So, we’re changing our name as a sign of our commitment.
Scripture shows us that a name change is a spiritually significant event. When God calls people to a new adventure in faith, He often marks the occasion by changing a believer’s name. When God called an old man and woman named Abram and Sarai to leave family and country and become father and mother to the promised people. And after God called them, he changed their names to Abraham and Sarah. God met a shady man named Jacob by the river Jabbok and wrestled with him all night long. In the morning, pleased by his persistence and passion, God changed his name to Israel–which means ‘the one who struggles with God’ in Hebrew. Jesus met a religious man named Saul on his way to Damascus–where he planned to arrest and imprison a bunch of Christians. On the road, Jesus blinded Saul with the love of God, claimed him as a minister of the Gospel, and changed his name to Paul. God changes his children’s names when He is about to call them to an extraordinary new life of faith. From that point on, any time Abraham,Sarah,Israelor Paul was called by name, they received a powerful reminder that God had called them to a new life and a new identity. So it is with Hickory Grove Presbyterian Church–we believe God is calling us to a new beginning–and God is giving us a new name to go with it!
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