Welcome to the website of Grace Presbyterian Church, a new congregation beginning in Worcester. Whether you are curious about why we’re starting a new church, have reservations about organized religion, are somewhere along the spectrum of skepticism and belief, or are simply interested in something more, I’m glad you took a moment to check us out. Please read more, visit one of our events, or feel free to contact me.
Rev. Jarrett Allebach
Grace – At the heart of Jesus’ message is the good news that being right with God and having hope for this world come as gifts received by faith. Rather than looking to our accomplishments, abilities, or strength God points us to a suffering savior who gives himself in our place and conquers what we could not.
Presbyterian – We have roots that are both broad and deep. “Presbyterian” comes from a Greek word which means “elder” and was the title associated with leaders of Christian churches in the first century. It also reflects our ties to our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. Being Presbyterian means that we are not in this alone, but link arms with likeminded Christians for the greater good. Being Presbyterian also means that there checks and balances that help protect us from temptation, to which every person and institution is vulnerable.
Church – Jesus deliberately gathered followers, connecting them not only to himself but also to each other. Jesus imparted a distinct shape to this association of people so that the church would be an institution with stability and structure as well as a living organism comprised of his people. We realize that the church as an organism and an institution is both broken and beautiful, such that even Christians can be wary of the church. Yet, as followers of Jesus, pursuing his vision for life together we are a church and part of the church.
Many will identify themselves as spiritual but are skeptical of organized religion. People are cautious about losing the personal touch, the feel of compulsion or control from above, and the stains from the past which most organized religions carry. Without some type of mutual consent, patterns of organization, and commitment to others even when they fail, it impossible to go forward with others. In fact, if we reject organized religion in the pursuit of freedom from control and desire for authenticity of expression it is easy to alienate ourselves from others and engender selfishness and pride – the very things that faith is meant to combat. If organized religion puts you off, but you are intrigued by Jesus I’d encourage to take some small steps and see if we are what you cannot stand or if there’s more to the picture. There is a space for people in various stages of belief and doubt at Grace.
Skepticism & Belief
There are few who are complete skeptics and even the strongest Christians harbor doubts. Grace is a church where there is room for questions and dialogue. In the bible God actually supplies with words to express our faith and doubts, so we try to have avenues for both. If you simply want to listen in, have specific questions, or are being drawn back to faith after a time away we’d be privileged to be a partner in dialogue.
The author and Christian thinker CS lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.” You may have the sense that there is something more out there and we believe that we have some things you should consider.
Driving through the city it seems like there are many churches in Worcester, so why are we starting a new one? There are a variety of reasons and here are four categories of responses, not necessarily in order of importance.
Reasons rooted in sociology
- New organizations tend to more effectively meet emerging needs and serve new populations. Like new residents, newer organizations, tend to see the community with fresh eyes. New churches usually have a greater sensitivity to changing dynamics of their communities and the unmet needs following such change.
- It is also easier for newer organizations to embrace new approaches and new people since there are no institutional of traditions of “how we’ve always done it.”
- The survival of a new organization is never guaranteed so there can be a greater openness to risk, as the whole venture is inherently risky. Thus new churches, can be sources of creativity and innovation.
- New organizations provide opportunities for the emergence of new leaders. There is a continued need for leadership, no “old guard,” and lower expectations of tenure before inviting “new comers” into leadership.
Reasons rooted in Christian Spirituality
- At the center of the Christian faith is a God who seeks those distant from him. Beginning a new church is an avenue to follow God’s lead in moving towards those on the outside.
- In Jesus’ parting words to his followers he commands them to make followers from all peoples incorporating them into churches.
- Participating in the establishment of a new church is an excellent way for Christians to grow in their faith faith.
- There are emphases that shape our theology and practice from which we can uniquely serve Worcester.
Reasons rooted in history
- The strategy of the Apostle Paul and the first generation of Christians was to begin new churches.
- The establishment of new churches is tied to times of renewal and the extension of the Christian faith.
Reasons rooted in our story
We ended up in this work of beginning a new church through an unexpected series of events which both pushed us and opened our hearts to this endeavor. Through being laid off, two years of “under-employment,” many closed doors, and a year long fellowship with a church in Providence Jarrett, the minister of Grace Pres, was led by God to Worcester. For each of those participating in this new church you will find a story of how God has led them to Grace and why they are making the sacrifices necessary to start a new congregation.
These essential points are the foundations on which we build everything else.
At the center of the Christian faith is the good news that God has acted to make us right with him and bring hope for this world when we could not do it ourselves. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God reconciles people to himself and sets in motion the restoration of all things. The good news of God’s grace is the point of entry and power for each day of the Christian life. Read more.
Jesus’ work of renewal begins at the center and works its way into every part of who we are. Our intellect, emotions, behaviors, and bodies are all scenes of God’s redemption. Our work, play, hobbies, families, friendships, and cultural engagement are all spheres in which our faith in integrated. Instead of layers and fractures, a public and private self the Christian is whole and free, deepening in grasp of faith and engaging all of life through the framework of faith. Read more.
A Jesus called his followers friends and in the Christian church a new relational world emerges because the Holy Spirit unites a diverse group of people through our common savior. In Jesus a new family begins in which all of life is reoriented by good news of God’s action. Instead of running from people or using them, we form communities of mutual care to reflect God’s love and grasp it more deeply. Read more.
Jesus generous love creates a community that looks beyond its own interests. We strive be a church for our friends, family’s, neighbors and associates who do not know Christ. We also seek to be a church that has a particular concern for the poor and marginalized. In the way we worship, serve, talk and live the church is shaped to care for and include those on the fringes of faith or society. This outward thrust has two particular emphases that drive our mission. Read more.
God has called us to Worcester. We learn from the city, love the city and as a church seek to reflect its wonderful diversity, ethic of hard work, intellectual engagement, and historic roots. Rather than building a reputation or name for ourselves we work towards a great city and commit ourselves to its good. With wisdom we celebrate Worcester’s strengths and care for its hurts. We partner with many for peace and prosperity of the place so many call home. Read more.
One is never enough. Only through a variety of leaders, ministries, and churches can we reflect God’s rich love for Worcester and this world. Following Jesus’ example we embrace a developmental mindset, continually training, releasing, and supporting a variety of people, initiatives and institutions to to serve Worcester and pursue God’s renewing work in the region and the world beyond. Read more.
When beginning a new congregation, there is much that is uncertain but we work with hope, a hope that is neither flimsy nor frail. With expectation we imagine what God will do through us in the coming years. This is the future we long to see, the future towards which we work and pray.
A church of worship where singing, sacraments, heartfelt prayer, laughter, and sadness each reflect and point to the heart of God. We bow together in confession and lift our eyes in hope as words of grace penetrate the layers and touch the heart. The ancient Christian gospel rings with divine life and contemporary significance deepening faith and planting it new. So with our mind, emotions and will we respond to the beauty of God in Jesus Christ. And, through lives energized by the Holy Spirit, we orient all that we are to reflect his worth.
A church of depth where Christian spirituality is not a religious makeover that better hides the disfigurement of sin, but a place of transformation for the whole person. The deformed become beautiful, the anxious find rest, the fractured become whole, the addicted are freed and the selfish become generous through inner renewal by the Holy Spirit and the cumulative effect of worship, prayer, study, connection, service, and suffering. This deepening Christian spirituality functions as the launching point for witness and service as faith is integrated with all of life, renewing our work, recreation, relationships and engagement with culture.
A church of friendship where the indicators of wealth, poverty, education, ethnicity, stage of life, and race do not separate but display the power of Jesus to unite diverse people through a common faith. We linger in conversation, eat in each other’s homes, celebrate the successes, and walk through the tragic as we pursue authentic community. Through our Christian friendship we better know our savior and embody his counter-cultural ethics. By mirroring God’s hospitality and pursuit of us we build a community that welcomes those who do not believe. In this context of connection to the church the unconvinced experience the goodness and truth of Christ with many embracing the savior at the center of this community.
A church of outreach where our unique abilities and the God given opportunities converge in faithful witness and tangible expressions of care. In conversations across the backyard fence and around a table at the pub we speak of Jesus in language that is accessible and compelling. Through multiple venues those outside the church hear of Jesus’ counter-cultural claims and demands alongside his promise of peace in the midst of anxiety, hope in uncertainty, and love greater than our pain. Though our friends, family, and neighbors responses range from faith, to outright rejection, to indifference, yet our good works cannot be denied. We bring meals to a neighbor, listen to the despondent friend, pray with a hospice patient, help immigrants navigate social services, tutor students, and mentor in job skills. Instead of demeaning those in need through blame or sentimentalism, our expressions of God’s sacrificial love are marked by respect and compassion. Beyond our service to individuals we also engage complex structural issues like poverty, education, and economic development through thoughtful cooperation with those trained and active in these fields. Rather than separate “secular” work from the life of faith we equip and encourage Christians towards excellence, creativity, and distinctiveness in their vocations.
A city where the renewal and multiplication of churches positively influences the lives of citizens, the corporate identity of Worcester and the structures of the city. While such change is beyond our strength, we work for the good of city and believe in something only God can do. We dream of relational wholeness in marriage and singleness. Children thrive, the elderly are valued, and college students build cross generational friendship. Poverty, crime, and discrimination decrease without simply relocating, segregating or incarcerating those on the margins. Worcester is marked by sustainable economic development, continued progress in education, and increasing cooperation across traditional lines of have and have not. A growing and diverse urban population strengthens city neighborhoods furthering cultural development. Instead of envying and resenting Boston, Worcester finds contentment in its own identity as both the heart the commonwealth and a gateway city connecting New England.
This future towards which we work and pray is an end that only God can bring, but he uses people and their plans. If you’d like to know more of the details behind this big picture direction just ask.
We believe that there is a God who speaks.
We stand within the rich stream of Christian faith which affirms that this God has communicated in history and this has been accurately recorded in the literature we call the bible.
We adhere to ancient documents such as the Nicene and Apostles creeds which faithfully summarize essential teachings of the bible. In being affiliated with The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), our denomination, we affirm the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as our doctrinal standard. The PCA provides accountability, support, and partnership in mission at regional, national, and international levels.
Furthermore, we believe:
- God is real, personal, beyond us, but knowable because he is not silent. God sustains us moment by moment and is active in this world. Our lives are not random or senseless but have meaning and purpose.
- Humanity resembles God so that every person possess dignity and worth, reflecting something of his goodness.
- This world is not right. While our families, societies, and even the physical environment may warp or damage us the problem ultimately lies within. The human soul has been corrupted by placing self at the center of reality rather than God. This pollution, called sin, leaks out tainting everything else. The Christian faith makes sense of our loneliness, pain, disillusionment, and inability to make things right.
- God’s plan to set things right culminates in Jesus. In Jesus, God takes on our human nature and lives the life of goodness and love for which we were destined but failed to realize. Jesus dies a violent, cursed death taking our sin on his shoulders but rises alive triumphant over our corruption. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we can be made right with God and can be certain that evil will be vanquished. There is hope for us and for this world.
- Being a Christian involves ethical change and moral renewal but these arise only from the transforming power of the gospel. The gospel, or good news, tells us that we are worse than we ever realized but more loved than we ever hoped. The life of the Christian is both exciting and daunting as God changes us by his Spirit and uses us as agents of his renewal in this world.
- The church is essential to life and growth as a Christian. Jesus calls his followers friends and creates a new relational world that softens our sense of isolation and uniquely shows who he is. While the church does not save, it is the community of the Savior.
- Part of our unique calling is to love and serve the city of Worcester alongside other churches, ministries, and institutions. While God’s love stretches to all nations we have a particular responsibility to our neighbors and therefore focus on the city and greater Worcester.
Rev. Jarrett Allebach and his wife Hillary have been in New England ten years now and the path to beginning a new church in Worcester has included many stops along the way. Jarrett grew up outside of Philadelphia and has spent most of his life on the east coast except for four years in Saint Louis, where he received his M.Div. He has been an assistant pastor, youth worker, ministry leader in a national park, substitute teacher, laid off, unemployed, an apprentice with a master gardner, and a rock climbing instructor. Through this and much more Jarrett has seen God’s loving hand direct his path, turning even sorrow and disappointment to good. Jarrett finds it an incredible privilege to serve Jesus Christ and his church and is deeply grateful for his role at Grace Pres and the opportunity to be part of what God is doing in Worcester. When not hanging out with his best friend (Hillary) and their kids (8, 6, & 4) Jarrett enjoys rock climbing, reading, snow boarding, the arts, hospitality, and developing meaningful friendships. Contact Pastor Jarrett
We have an amazing team of leaders who are helping us launch Grace Presbyterian Worcester. Each person’s story of coming to faith, growing in God’s grace, and being pulled into this mission is unique and worth hearing. They have all sacrificed, prayed, and made commitments so that this church could rise to display the grace of God and do good in the community. Without this team and the efforts of many others, Grace Presbyterian would not exit.
Throughout my life, I have experienced many things, both in my youth and in my adult life. Some of the occasions were truly remarkable. Seeing both of my daughters being born; getting married to the woman of my life; the day I set foot in America and leading my first service were indeed unforgettable moments. Nevertheless, being touched by God, called upon was the most emotional and humble experience I have ever gone through. I still remember that day I became a Christian when I was 11 years old and growing up in Brazil.
The process of moving towards ministry as a pastor, since my conversion 29 years ago, has been very slow, more like a “slug pace.” Nevertheless, it has been a great journey. I have been happily married for 22 years. We have two daughters that we love and together we have endured many things and learned great lessons. It is all due to what God has done in our lives. I am no longer the man I once was and I hope through Christ that I will be greater than I am today. God has transformed me and allowed me to be certain of what I believe and want to be, a pastor. The Lord is my Shepherd, so I want to serve, to listen, to council, to teach, to pray for others and myself. I am excited to work part time with Grace and look forward to how God will lead me and use me in this great work of establishing Grace in Worcester. Contact Marco
Grace Presbyterian Worcester is a daughter church of Trinity Presbyterian church in Providence. In the late 90’s Trinity was established to serve Providence and its metro region with the good news of Jesus Christ. Since her inception Trinity has been committed planting other churches and it was through a year long fellowship program with Trinity that Jarrett and his family were called to Worcester. The leadership of Trinity provides oversight and support to Grace Pres. while the members of the congregation in Providence come alongside the church planting effort in a variety of ways.
Mission to North America – this is our denomination’s agency which works to advance God’s kingdom through planting, growing, and multiplying biblically healthy churches. In addition to their work to begin new congregations MNA has a wide range of efforts such as disaster relief, prison ministry, ESL, and chaplaincy.