Welcome to the Downtown Vision Fund!
This is the ongoing fund and awareness raising page for the Downtown Church which is part of Grace Community Church. Each Month you will see new content which is primarily stories, of what God is doing in and through the Downtown Church. Feel free to check it out, share it out, and contact us for more info.
We thought we would kick off 2016 by introducing you to our church! Below are 2 stories of Alumni of the University of Iowa. You can also take a look at this quick info graphic to see where your support goes and read the stories below, you’ll be glad you did…
Alumni – Moved Away
My wife and I attended the University of Iowa a number of years ago. Since graduating we’ve moved several times and with each move faced the need to find community. What we’ve learned through all of this is that community (real community – the kind that is more than social media, the weekly scheduled group, or a mutual activity) requires proximity.
For Grace Downtown, having a church location on campus allows for students seeking community to have a place where their college lives and faith community are not mutually exclusive. This is a big need at our university and one that Grace Downtown can fulfill.
Alumni – Moved Back!
Our story in Iowa City dates back to the early 2000’s when James and I attended the University of Iowa as undergrads. We met in freshmen honors rhetoric and were dating by the end of our first semester. Throughout undergrad we were involved in campus ministry through 24/7. The Lord used this time to grow our faith and teach us what it means to be on mission for Him. Shortly after my graduation we got married and were off to England where James was completing his masters. Next stop was Boston where James did his PhD studies. While in Boston we attended a church plant that emphasized church community and making Christ known in a very secular city. There we developed a heart for church planting and learned that God has specific kingdom purposes for where we live. He gave us a desire to be in the city for the city no matter where we ended up long term.
After a fellowship at the University of Minnesota, James was on the job market. Through God’s providence, James was offered a job as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa. We had always hoped to end up back in Iowa City. We wanted to be a blessing to the town and university that God used to bless us so we moved to Iowa City fall 2014.
Finding a church can be one of the most difficult aspects of settling into a new community. Our criteria for a church was simple; the church had to be Bible-believing and theologically sound. It needed to be Gospel-centered in its preaching and practice. Finally we hoped to find a church that emphasizes genuine Christian community. We attended several churches in Iowa City but didn’t find quite the right fit so we decided to check out Grace Community Church in North Liberty. At first I was hesitant to attend a church in North Liberty because our time in Boston showed us the value of attending a church in our neighborhood. Never the less, we went and soon found that Grace met our criteria very well. Then we were welcomed by Dan Bovenmyer and started talking about church planting. We were thrilled to hear that Grace had a church plant in downtown Iowa City. While we appreciate everything Grace North Liberty has to offer, the smaller community of Grace Downtown offered a place to quickly become part of a community. The missional focus on the University and downtown Iowa City fit into our personal goal of being in the city for the city. We felt confident the Lord was calling us to attend Grace Downtown.
We jumped into Grace Downtown by mid-fall and quickly got involved in house church. The Lord use small group to make Grace Downtown feel like our church home, a place to know others and be known. In summer 2015, with our original house church bursting at the seams, our group multiplied. We now co-lead and host a group at our home on Thursday nights. Our House Church is a mix of people of different ages and stages of life, with many having ties to the University. It has been encouraging to see strangers become like family, united by Christ, and in turn invite others into the group to share in the same community.
In just one year the Lord has mightily used Grace Downtown to bless and minister to our family. Our house church helped us with projects. When our second was born this past summer I was surprised by how many people signed up to bring us meals, many of who were acquaintances outside of our house church. The pastoral staff and their wives were a wonderful support as I sought treatment for post partum depression. Indeed the Lord used Grace Downtown to live out Romans 12: 10-13 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” We pray that the Lord will uses us to minister to others just as He used the people of Grace Downtown to minister to us.