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Bringing Grace

Church seeks to bring change in community

By Chin Yi Oh | Echo

Grace United Methodist Church has brought in a new director of student ministry and Senior Pastor to foster new youth ministry that is not confined to the four walls of a church.

“Our idea about change for the future really fits our DNA of community service,” Senior Pastor Ronald Branson said. Since becoming senior pastor in July, Branson has been working tirelessly to bring about a change in the local community.

Seeing that the newer generation wants everything to be more personal, the church is trying a different approach to minister to millennials.

During the contemporary service, instead of preaching, the church is going with a discussion-orientated role and more personable role. According to Bryan Lloyd, the new director of student ministry, students don’t want to be preached at, or else they are going to shut down.

“I want to grow as a church, to see the kingdom grow and relationship in community that is inclusive. We want to reach all of Blackford County, but in a different way,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd has three goals in place. First, he wants students to be consistent in their attendance. Next, he wants to spiritually nurture students by being a part of their everyday lives, not just on Sunday mornings. Finally, he wants to reach students that will not enter a church building. Youth ministries are being done off-site to attract students who will not come onto church property.

Grace’s Christian Outdoor Ministry Experience (C.O.M.E.), teaches young people, whose hobby is hunting, how to hunt and fish while instilling Christian values. Rich Hill teaches hunter safety to inexperienced youth from the ages of 11 to 17 years old, along with 20 to 30 year old adult guides. Each student is paired up with a guide who they will hunt with. During the process of hunting, the guides will do a devotional with students. “The goal is to train the youth about God’s creation and show them ways to benefit from it and how to treat it,” said Grace’s website.

Hope House is a large addiction recovery ministry, which Grace hosts. Lloyd, who made the decision to join Grace after seeing this ministry, found it interesting to see a church loving on those who struggle with a drug addiction. Those who struggle with a drug addiction face a long and hard road, one filled with judgements. To him, it was great to see a church welcome people struggling with addiction and love them.

For a number of years, Grace has supported an outreach worship service that met in the local elementary school, called New Community. It has recently moved inside Grace’s facility at the corner of Highways 3 and 26 in Hartford City. According to Branson, this worship service is reinventing itself as a different kind of contemporary experience that will be the launch pad for future church planting.

“We would love to connect with Taylor students through the many opportunities available to help,” Branson said. “Many years ago, I was inspired by a Taylor youth who came to my school through YoungLife, so I know firsthand the power of students to do good and share the message of Jesus.”

Grace wants Taylor students to become a part of their youth ministry by joining the church as they build the New Community worship experience. Lloyd knows youth will want to have college students as leaders because they have relatable experiences. Lloyd encourages Taylor students to help with small groups and big events. Students are also encouraged to serve in worship if they are musically talented and in children’s ministry if they have a passion for children.

Grace United Methodist Church is located at 312 W. Washington St. Hartford City, IN. The traditional service is at 9 a.m. and the contemporary service is at 11:15 a.m. More information can be found at their website,

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