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New Grass Lake Family Worship Center Pastor Settling Into The Community

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Family Worship Center Lead Pastor James Bryde has served at the church just six months but has already hit his stride.  Born in Lansing and raised in Holt he took the reins last August. On the morning of this past New Years Eve Bryde, with his wife Meredith nearby, took to the pulpit and preached on the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 28, the “Great Commission,” that impels the disciple to “go into the whole world” to evangelize.  Barely 30, Bryde kept members of the assembly in rapt attention, without not a few responding “Amen,” backed by praise and worship music.  But this wasn’t a typical Sunday, the 31st of December, but summons to live and preach the Gospel in the New Year, 2018. Whereas Jesus had been a carpenter, and the Apostle Paul had been a tentmaker, Bryde had worked as a bicycle mechanic for 10 years, and though he liked the work, soon he realized that he felt drawn to a higher calling. In his sermon on Sunday he explained to adherents that Christianity in its inception was passed on by word of mouth from believers who presented to others — family members, co-workers, kings, and even prisoners, their belief in the Resurrection.

“When Meredith and I met,” Bryde says, “I had already been working in ministry for a few years and was committed to continuing it. There were a lot of people who always encouraged me to go into ministry.  Growing up, there were always people in my church telling me I needed to become a pastor, but at that time I was never really sold on the idea.”

At Michigan State University, Bryde continued to consider ministry, even as he contemplated going to law school.

“The person who influenced me the most to follow the ministry path was a man named Paul,” he says.  “He was a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ.  In him I saw a man who had chosen to go into vocational ministry and who seemed to have joy and pride in his work.  I admired him for that.”  His influence, whether he realized it, helped me overcome some of the hesitation about going into the field.”

In seminary Bryde focused on Pastoral Studies.  He learned Koine Greek, the language that the first gospels were written in, the Bible used by Jesus and Paul.  Formation included sermon preparation, preaching, and pastoral counseling, and how to lead an assembly.  “I was lucky enough to be able to spend extra time working on my Greek skills during seminary,” he says.

While Family Worship Center was between pastors, Bryde presided on a few Sundays in the absence of an interim pastor.  Reluctant to leave their church upstate, the Brydes prayed over the decision and determined that they felt called to apply to the Grass Lake church.  The denomination they belong to is the Church of God based in Anderson, IN.   

Ministry in any denomination has a learning curve and every congregation is different.  Bryde says he finds most challenging ministering to the bereaved.  “There are so many people who are experiencing tremendous hardship in their lives.  Unfortunately, many in ministry have often offered up empty platitudes that do more damage than good.  It is incredibly hard to find the right words that give credit to the reality of a person’s pain and do justice to the complex reality of who God is.”

Especially inspiring in Bryde’s prayer life are letters written by Saint Augustine, a Catholic sinner turned Saint who wrote voluminous sermons and other writings in the Church, and Martin Luther.

James and Meredith and I met somewhat providentially at Roaming Goat Coffee, and started a conversation on, of all things, LL Bean boots.  He and I wear them in the snowy, slushy weather.  Meredith, 25, trains leader dogs for the blind, and is equally attuned to life in the spirit, as is her husband.  “We’re still adjusting to the community, but are part of the community as much as possible, and we’re always available by phone.”

In a short time James has become a popular church leader in Grass Lake. Family Worship Center member Joseph Sharkey, who has lived in the area for six months, says he has come away impressed by the new, young pastor.  “I really like him,” says Sharkey.  I’ve got three children, and they like him, too.  He’s got fresh ideas.”

“Grass Lake is a great town,” Pastor Bryde sums it up.  Small-town life is a bit of an adjustment for me.  But so far it’s been wonderful.”

Family Worship Center on Mount Hope Road holds its service at 10 a.m. on Sunday. On Friday night, members of “Celebrate Recovery,” meet at a program for those who struggle with addictions.

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