Abundant Grace

Have you felt it in your life? God gives us grace abundantly and in so many ways. Several members of the church have shared their stories of abundant grace with us. Take the time to read or listen to their strong testimonies below. Clicking on their picture will take you to a video of their testimony. I know you’ll find inspiration and faith that God will use each of us so that His stories can continue to be told for years to come.
Where has God shown you His abundant Grace? Where do you give of your time and talents? Where would you like to become involved? For a comprehensive listing of Grace programs, check out our most recent Connections Catalog. You can indicate your desire to serve by clicking on the button below and filling out the Time & Talents Survey. Please return it to the church office.


A Humble Servant’s Heart

*Cricket Ellis passed away in August of 2020 and we miss her every day! Because her story is so very special, and she was a blessing to so many, we wanted to keep it posted.

New Beginnings:  In 1956 Ted and I came to Grace with our four children. Karen was one, Jeff three, Larry six and Donny was nine. Now they’re all senior citizens! We came because we wanted the children to be in church with the children they went to school with. We joined the Stillwell Sunday School class and, after a while, I began to teach 3rd grade Sunday School. I taught for about 15 years. I worked with Vacation Bible School and belonged to the Nancy Smith UMW Circle. Later, I served as circle leader. Oh, I loved the circles! We had so much fun and did so many different things. It was a great way to get to know people, to do things for others, like projects. It was always fun to put on the Lions Club supper.  This was a way to serve the community because there were people outside the church who attended the dinners. Ted served on a lot of committees. He would serve as a member, then eventually as vice-chair and then as chair. He always wanted to do things for the church that he could. But, he did them in the background. He was a quiet man of steel.

Times of Change and Service: When the Savannah River Site began to employ more people things began to change and a lot of people moved into the area. Some of those people came to Grace and helped grow the church. When we first came to Grace, the Cokesbury Building was the sanctuary and the Asbury Building was built later. Everyone was so cooperative when it came to growing and building Grace. Later, Ted served as a Trustee and was Chairman during the time of the church fire.

Grace Serves the Servant: Many years later when Ted got sick, I was unable to be involved with the church because I was Ted’s caretaker at home. I felt so isolated and got a little depressed because I was homebound with him. But, during that time, the church came to me, and they kept coming. Ted died at 96. I was 93. By then, I felt as if I was just nobody. But, I made myself go to Wednesday night Wings and I came out of my shell. That’s when I made all of my Wednesday night dinner friends.

New Beginnings: The beginning of a whole new life started when I was 93! I started going to Gifts Crochet group. I love it! I’m still going and look forward to it every week. My circle group now takes part in the pillow ministry, and I’m still a member of the Stillwell Sunday School class. No matter how old you are, there is always something you can do for somebody. I want to be a blessing for somebody!

My Mission

I am a long-time member of Grace, but my membership has been broken up into several phases during my life. My family moved from Augusta in the early 70’s and we joined Grace UMC. As tragic as it was for Grace, The Fire, July 17, 1983 was an enlightenment for me as I witnessed an outpouring of love through laborious hours of removing rubble out of the sanctuary. Great men and women of our church worked diligently to clean up the aftermath of the fire. The memories of the fire are a reminder that the church is made up of people serving Him. I attended Grace through high school.  Then I went to college and eventually met my future wife, Pam.  After we married, we attended several different Baptist churches in the area, but we eventually made our way back to Grace.

In 1997, I suffered a brain stem stroke, which changed my life forever in my Faith Journey. I truly consider myself one of God’s Miracles, and the people of Grace were always there for me and my family during this hardship in my life. 

Grace United Methodist Church is my church home!! I enjoy being involved with the Lifesong Service, New Life Sunday School, Frontline Ministry, United Methodist Men and Return to Bethlehem. Our Mission at Grace is to “Know Christ and Make His Love Known,” and my mission is to make a positive difference in my community and my church home, Grace UMC.


Have You Been Nudged?

Do you ever question your abilities when faced with deciding whether to take on a new role in the church? I did several years ago when the need for a new Bereavement Committee and a chair for the Committee arose. I believe that God put it on my heart to respond to the call. But I kept saying, “Lord, surely there are many others in the church who are better qualified to do that.” This went on for several months until I read the message in our weekly newsletter that was titled, “Have You Been Nudged?” When I read this message, I declared, “Lord, okay I get it!” After I said okay, I officially began to chair the new Bereavement Committee and we set about overcoming issues like providing meals to families after the death of a church member. Little did I know that one result of this Committee would be the introduction of a GriefShare program at Grace. 

GriefShare is a nationwide program that offers help and encouragement after the death of a spouse, child, family member or friend. This 13-week, Christ-centered, nondenominational program features biblical concepts for healing from grief in three key parts: 1) videos that offer encouraging information; 2) discussions led by caring, trained lay leaders; and 3) workbooks for journaling and personal study to reinforce weekly sessions.

Our GriefShare program at Grace currently offers two 13-week cycles per year and began our seventh cycle in late August. It has given help and encouragement to many Grace members and to many in our community. GriefShare participants have said, “It was a safety net when my world was literally falling apart,” and, “GriefShare saved my life!” In my leadership role, I have received much more than I have given. When participants begin to comfort each other, it really warms my heart and then I know that the Lord is surely with us! Also, I have grown tremendously in my own faith during the past several years working with GriefShare.

If you wish to stay in the will of God for your life, I encourage you to ask Him to direct your path. And, if God is calling you to a role in our church, prayerfully consider the opportunity. When God calls, He equips. So, I would ask you, “Have You Been Nudged?”

Cake Works!

Mark and I first moved to North Augusta in 1983 after he was transferred by DuPont from Victoria, TX. We were excited to be closer to home as our families are from the Detroit area. Coming from the city, we also loved the southern charm and hometown feel of North Augusta. We found our first home in a quiet neighborhood, and eventually got unpacked and settled in to a routine. But we didn’t know anyone yet. 

One afternoon during our daily walk, one of our neighbors (I will never forget this!) walked down our street with a beautiful pound cake she had baked to welcome us to the neighborhood! She introduced herself as Galan Potter and we had a wonderful chat. At the end of our conversation, she asked, “Have you found a church yet?” We answered, “No,” and she invited us to Grace. We had been church shopping but had not quite found the right fit, so we took her up on her invitation.

Our first Sunday at Grace the service was held in the Family Center, as this was shortly after the church had suffered a fire. After the service, we were escorted to the Family Foundations Sunday School Class. Everyone was so welcoming and kind! We met so many nice folks who invited us back, and shortly after that, we had a visit from the lead pastor, John Younginer. It was through this exerience, and Galan and Johnny mentoring us, that we became members of Grace in 1984, and we have been here ever since. In 1985, we found out we were expecting our first child, so in addition to becoming members, I was baptized into the church in the new sanctuary.

Grace and its people have been a blessing to Mark and I! We raised two daughters at Grace and our family has always been supported, nurtured, prayed for and loved!  Mark and I have served on many committees and ministries over the years. If I could give any advice to current members or someone thinking about joining Grace, it would be to GET INVOLVED! It is the best way to meet people, find common ground, form relationships and make lifelong friends to stand by you whatever life throws your way.  And with the support of the church, I have been able to offer Jazzercise classes to its members and the community, a ministry of health, fitness, love and support of one another.

We are truly blessed to call Grace “HOME,”… All it takes is one invitation (and maybe a pound cake) to lead others to Grace!

God is Using Me, the Introvert

I grew up attending various churches into my early 20s, but became increasingly uncomfortable as I heard things from church leadership that seemed to be at odds with ideas like acceptance and forgiveness. Like many, I became wary of church, or more to the point, people who went to church, which resulted in me not attending church for about 20-plus years.

Fast forward, as I developed a deeper relationship with my nephew Buff Waters and his wife Crissy, they were my introduction to Grace. Here I found a welcoming group of friends and families. I attended church services from time to time, but was not fully committed to regular attendance or participation. However, I began to receive invitations for pick-up basketball games with Buff and other guys at Grace. Playing basketball gave me the opportunity to observe men who loved Grace and for whom church life was a way of life. Over time through various social occasions, new friendships formed with people like Ron and Laurie Matthews, Martha and Tony Ginn, and others. I was, and am, an introvert, but I felt accepted without having to perform and without judgement. Later, when Janet came into my life, I became a regular church goer. She loved the church. It was refreshing to attend with her and see her perspective. I introduced her to my friends at Grace and they welcomed her with loving arms. She saw what I had seen in these people. We were married in 2012 and immediately joined Grace.

Now, this is where God really began to change me and I began to trust. Because of men at Grace I have had the opportunity to serve other men through a program called F3 and to serve children and families through Real Men Read.  Me. The introvert, reading to kindergartners. Who could have imagined? Only God! Tyler Strange, our then associate pastor, showed me the deep need of young children to have a positive male role model in their school life. He convinced me to take a leap of faith and join the effort. The introvert (me!) now serves our congregation as a Greeter several times per year, and I recently joined those who serve communion. I could not have done these things before Grace, and I had no desire to. The people of Grace were willing to be used by God to draw me closer. The programs of Grace offered me opportunities to serve, to give back.

I am grateful the people of Grace give so generously,… giving their time, their talent and themselves as God leads them.  I am grateful they taught me how to give.

God Moments

Growing up at Grace, my family has always been involved in some way, shape or form. My dad is in the praise band and is the construction coordinator for Return to Bethlehem. My mom has served on the CDC board and currently teaches the high school Sunday school class. I have always loved the variety of missions and groups our church offers, and I joined the youth group when I was old enough. I was so excited to finally get to be a part of some of these programs.

One mission special to me is Salkehatchie. I first attended the Sumter Salkehatchie two years ago along with my brother, Ellis. I was very hesitant to go at first because of the potential responsibility that comes with taking Ellis to places like that. Ellis has autism, which can be difficult at times. Andy Morris, our Youth Director, assured me that we would love it and eventually convinced me. I didn’t  know what to expect from the camp, but what I REALLY didn’t expect was the outpouring of love and accepting nature of  the campers and leaders. Not once was I worried if someone was quietly making fun or being mean to my brother. Everyone at the camp understood his condition and accepted him with open arms. At the end of the camp, we are asked to convey our “God Moment” for the week. My God Moment was the overwhelming relief of knowing that Ellis was accepted for exactly who he is, and was not asked to change for those around him. Salkehatchie holds a very special place in our hearts and we will continue to participate for years to come.

Another mission I love is the Winter Wonderland Ball. My mom has been heavily involved in the Ball for a long time, and I have been attending with her for as long as I can remember. Over the years ,my passion has grown for working with people with special needs. Two years ago, I was given the awesome opportunity to be the youth representative on the  Planning Committee. It was a great experience to be able to share my input on how the dance should be run. After many years of working with the Winter Wonderland Ball, God urged me to move forward with volunteering with the Rec’ing Crew, a local activities-driven group for people with special needs. Of course, I  take my brother, Ellis, to the weekly events that they sponsor.

I have our church to thank for encouraging me to pursue my passion of working with people with special needs and showing me the path that I want to take with my life.


It Takes a Village

Our Grace story started long before we were married and joined the church. My mother grew up at Grace and my grandparents were active members since the 1930s. My parents were married here and, while my sister and I were raised in Chapin, SC, growing up we spent many special weekends and holidays at Grace. After Ron and I moved to North Augusta in 1996, we visited several different churches in the area, but Grace always felt like home and quickly became our home.

In 2013, I had the opportunity to serve as our local church representative for Epworth Children’s Home. I had always known of Epworth and their service to children in foster care through the annual Work Day and Mother’s Day offering. It wasn’t until I served as our local church representative that I truly was able to witness firsthand the impact of these offerings. In 2014, our Sunday School Class, New Life, became Cottage Partners at Epworth where we provide quarterly activities with both the Cile Gray and Doug Gray Cottage for boys 15-18 years old. We’re very thankful to be a part of a mission focused Sunday School class that has remained committed to providing caring and compassionate relationships with these boys for over five years, something kids in foster care have typically been without in their childhood.

Whether it was a day with our Epworth boys at Grace’s lake site, a day at the zoo, fishing, or hosting them for Return to Bethlehem at Christmas, I would always tell Ron that I wished I could bring them all home with us. That was obviously impossible, but last year when Epworth expanded their service to licensing private homes for foster care, this gave us the opportunity to answer a calling that had been on my heart for several years. We were officially licensed through Epworth’s Foster Care Program in September 2018 and welcomed our first foster son into our home October 3, 2018 and then twin boys in November that have been with us ever since. With an already hectic life with busy careers and teenage triplets, we’ll be the first to tell you it is hard! But we’ll also tell you that God taught us through raising triplets that He will never give you more than you can handle as long as you lean on Him and the love of your brothers and sisters in Christ for support. We could not have made it this far without the love and support of our Grace family. It truly takes a village and Grace, continues to be our village today.