2015-10-18 / News

Maple Grove, Woodside Bible churches merge

BY STEVIE THIEDA
810-452-2601 • sthieda@mihomepaper.com


Today marks the third Sunday that the former Maple Grove Church has held service as Woodside Bible Church- Lapeer Campus. Bob Bryant (left) is the church’s interim pastor while Gary Gillim (right), who had been the pastor at Maple Grove Church for nearly a quarter century, has transitioned into the role of associate pastor. 
Photo by Stevie Thieda Today marks the third Sunday that the former Maple Grove Church has held service as Woodside Bible Church- Lapeer Campus. Bob Bryant (left) is the church’s interim pastor while Gary Gillim (right), who had been the pastor at Maple Grove Church for nearly a quarter century, has transitioned into the role of associate pastor. Photo by Stevie Thieda LAPEER TWP. — In the works for the past six months, a longtime local church has partnered with a growing ministry in Metro Detroit to become a satellite church.

Maple Grove Church, located at 148 Maple Grove Rd., has officially merged with Woodside Bible Church to become Woodside Bible Church - Lapeer Campus. Today marks the church’s third service under its new name.

“We’ve come to the conclusion through prayer that we needed Woodside Bible Church,” said Gary Gillim, 72, who spent 24 1/2 years as the pastor at Maple Grove Church. “We have the same vision, and we could do so much more in the community working together than individually.

“Over the years I’ve tried to bring different ones in at different times, but for one reason or another it never worked out. This was like an answer to prayer for us. It’s a win-win for all of us — I get to be a part of what we’re doing, and I’m reducing my schedule to part time.”

Pastor Bob Bryant, who will work with Gillim, said he is excited to combine the visions of Maple Grove and Woodside Bible with the aim of enriching the community. Bryant specializes in starting up Woodside churches.

“Woodside is a church of about 9,000 people, and this is our 12th campus,” Bryant said. “So this is something we’re familiar with, that we’ve done about seven times before.

“We’re just evaluating what everybody’s goals are, and what’s the heartbeat of Maple Grove, and Maple Grove was reaching people for Christ and reaching their community, making an impact, and that’s exactly what Woodside desires to do too.”

Woodside originated in Troy 60 years ago, and began its expansion process in 2005.

“We have the same gospel,” Bryant said. “We both believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and we want to reach people for Christ. The goal is to equip the people in the church to be Disciples of Christ and to reach their communities — their neighbors, their friends, their family — with the good news of Jesus Christ.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of what Gary’s done here at Maple Grove. We’re about to send out about 17,000 fliers just to introduce the community to let them know that we’re here and that we’re praying for them.”

A typical Woodside service comprises of 30 minutes of preaching, 20 to 25 minutes of worship songs and about five to 10 minutes of vision and leadership. At the past couple services, attendance increased from around 40 to 120 parishioners, and that number will likely continue to grow.

“The same people that were there the first week came back with their family members the second week,” said Elizabeth Gillim, the church’s music director. “There are already many new faces, which is great. Definitely we are better together. We’re already seeing it. There’s an excitement that’s brewing with every single person I talk with. We’re seeing families come more so than ever. This emphasis on reaching families is really going to be a part of what we do moving forward.”

Woodside Bible Church puts on monthly luncheons at their various campuses as an opportunity for people to get to know one another and enjoy one another’s company. They host food drives, hold prayer walks, and hold neighborhood groups where anywhere from 15 to 30 people gather in a home two to four times a month to spend time with God in Bible study, build relationships and deciphering ways to serve.

“We want to disciple people to become like Jesus — to know his words, to know his works and to follow in his ways,” Bryant said.

Loving Hands Clinic, a successful program at the former Maple Grove Church, will continue at Woodside.

“I want to expand the clinic to be sort of like a one-stop shop for the needy,” Gillim said. “One of the things I see in Lapeer is that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. We wouldn’t want to duplicate any services that are already available, but I know that Christ is the answer no matter what you’re going through, whatever difficulty you’re having.”

Woodside Bible Church-Lapeer Campus is open to anyone and everyone. For more information on Woodside Bible Church-Lapeer Campus, go online to www.woodsidebible.org/ lapeer/ or “like” their Facebook page.

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