Grace Reformed Church of Jersey City, a church plant under the supervision of Messiah’s Reformed Fellowship, hoped to begin worship services on September 1, 2013. The group meets at 10:00 a.m. in the Culinary Conference Center of the Hudson County Community College, located at 161 Newkirk Street in Jersey City.
Although Messiah’s Council originally determined a launch date of June 30, it became obvious as the date approached that the prospective space in an office building would not meet the group’s needs. Forced to begin looking for another facility, the starting date for worship was postponed to September 1.
“In the last year,” says church planter Rev. Sam Perez, “we have searched far and wide for an adequate space: movie theaters, banquet halls, office space, community centers, other church buildings. Since June 30, we slowly realized that a space that had been on our short list since August 2012 was quite adequate for worship: the local community college. So we decided to pursue that space, and that is where we’ll begin worship services on September 1.”
Church leaders viewed September 1 as a good start date since it gave them the summer to spread the word within the community and host social events, like barbeques, at the Perez home. It also coincided with most academic calendars, so families are less like to be traveling or on vacation. But setting a date is only one of many decisions in church planting requiring wisdom.
“One of the challenges of church planting is the chicken-and-egg problem,” Rev. Perez says. “If there are 20 things to be done, what do you do first? What do you do second? What should be done last? Addressing these tasks takes the Lord’s wisdom, prayer, counsel in our Council meetings.”
He relates that the group has met weekly on Wednesday evenings since July 17 and will continue to meet at his family’s apartment as they conclude their mid-week study of the Pentateuch and begin studying Genesis 3.
He says, “Apart from the core group of 24, there’s also another group of about 10-15 folks…who are interested in the church plant but not necessarily committed. The Bible study is especially geared towards them. They may not be necessarily Christian or church members, but they’re still welcomed. One of the goals of the study is to encourage Biblical literacy and familiarity with the Old Testament, especially as it calls us, from the very opening of Genesis, to worship God.”
He hopes that both people from the committed core group and people from the Bible study crowd will attend the worship services and recognize the gospel.
“I hope for a few things in this next phase,” he says, “but I think the most important aspiration is that folks who attend, whether core or crowd, would quickly realize that Grace Reformed Church is a place where God’s Good News is proclaimed, that this is a place where God’s grace transforms sinners, and that, through the ministry of the Word, more people would come to know Christ as Savior and Lord. To that end, our time in the Word, beginning September 1, will consider the letter to the Ephesians, and how Christ builds His Church, from His predestining purpose in eternity past to our spiritual resurrection in Christ to the ethical call of Christians as the household of God. I’m thoroughly excited to see what God will do at Grace Reformed Church in the next year.”
More information about the Jersey City church plant can be found on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JerseyCityGrace.
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 15 & 16 of the September 11, 2013, issue of Christian Renewal.