A TIME OF TRANSITION

This is a significant moment in the life of our church, but the hand of the Lord is very visible to us. Thank you for your patience, encouragement, and prayers! In the midst of this transition, God is working mightily in and through our church. We have much to celebrate and give thanks. We look forward to keeping you updated each step of the way during this transitional season.

Read Trey's Letter

Here are the ways we will keep you updated regularly:

Transition Webpage

Each week, our Leadership and Session will keep you updated on this webpage. If you have questions that are not answered on our transition webpage, you may always email us HERE.

Grace Weekly Videos

with Rev. Chris French

Each week, via a video message, Chris will share timely, updated information about the life and ministry of Grace Church. Click HERE to read a summary of Rev. Chris French’s video update today.

Session Weekly Updates

Each Friday, we will post brief updates from our elders and Transition Team on the Transition webpage HERE. Additionally, you may email our elders HERE.

Kitchen Table Talks

over Zoom

Thanks to those of you who were able to join us for one of our Kitchen Table Talks on Sunday, Aug 2 or Wednesday, Aug 5! We will be having more of these in August, so stay tuned! 

Social Media

We will keep you updated over our social media accounts too. Please follow us on Facebook HERE. Our Instagram account is: @gpchouston.

Weekly Updates

There are plans in the works to prepare for regathering as a Grace family for worship. These plans were designed in May, and are on hold until public health reports indicate that it’s safe to gather.  What metrics are we watching to determine a date?
  • The Texas Medical Center compiles city and county health data and updates the dashboard at tmc.edu.  You can view daily statistics and trends.
  • Public health officials have issued guidance cautions against gathering large groups until the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests is less than 10 % and there is a 14 day trend decrease in the new daily case rate in the greater Houston area.
  • Positivity rates were 22.3% in July, 16.8% last week and are 14% as of publication.
  • On a rolling average of 7 days, there is a 4 day decrease in the trend of positive cases. Grace is also a part of the group of TMC executives, business executives, religious leaders and local officials that meet weekly to gauge the health of the Houston area. The entire Grace family is anxious to worship together again.  We are ready for the day that can happen, as soon as it’s safe.

Grace is also a part of the group of TMC executives, business executives, religious leaders and local officials that meet weekly to gauge the health of the Houston area. The entire Grace family is anxious to worship together again.  We are ready for the day that can happen, as soon as it’s safe.

Mike Mantel

Transition Video

Mike brings the message of the healing Word of God and calls you to Worship during this time of change/transition, and be vulnerable to our needs and come to Him in confidence and faith.

Facebook

HoustonsGrace

Instagram

@gpchouston

A Letter from the Session of Grace

Dear Grace Presbyterian Church family,

For the past six years as Senior Pastor, Trey Little has made Grace Presbyterian Church better as our leader, preacher, and friend. When he shared with us his decision to step down, it was an emotional night. With hearts full of gratitude for him, we listened to his news, and then prayed together for God’s blessing on him and on this church.

This decision was Trey’s decision, and though we feel sadness, we also greatly respect Trey’s example of faith. He is trusting God’s leadership in his life and seeking to honor the long-term interests of Grace. We are grateful for his model of courageous servant leadership–and the way it emboldens each of us to consider the call to do the same in our own lives.

Since learning of Trey’s decision, we have sought to move quickly to ensure a smooth transition for Trey and to position Grace wisely for its next season. We are working closely with the staff Leadership Team (Chris French, Heather Kaemingk, Hardie Morgan, and Angela Wade Simpson) in these plans. You can learn about decisions made, and stay updated as we make further progress, on our dedicated transition webpage: gpch.org/transition. We are committed to proactive and transparent communication at every step. We also welcome any questions you have at transition@gpch.org.

Though this transition is unfolding quickly, we see Trey’s wisdom and graciousness in this timing, too. As he shared in his letter, he has been in prayerful reflection for the past 18 months–and now that God has led him to a decision, he does not want to deny or delay God’s calling. Trey also knows that the late summer and fall are pivotal times of near-term and long-term planning for Grace, especially during COVOD-19, and he does not want a prolonged transition period to divert focus or curtail the momentum of decision-making for the staff.

Trey Little is a gift to our church. We expect his final sermon on July 26–and the car parade we host for him on August 9–will be marking moments in the life of this community. It is a joy to celebrate a pastor who has loved us wholeheartedly. Day in and day out, including in the decision he’s making now, Trey keeps showing us what living to make Jesus visible is all about.

We move forward with confidence in God’s great plans for Grace Church–and with gratitude for a Senior Pastor who has also faithfully taught us what it means to be READY to say “yes” to God’s invitations.

Chris French – Acting Moderator
Candy Aldridge – Clerk

Elders


Dath Collins
Bert Crump
Judy Dewey
Francisco Garibay
Evan Ghazi
Debbie Kaplan
Debbie Lunn
Mike Mantel
Natalie McElroy
Dan McElyea
Hardie Morgan
Nnenna Okoro
Wayne Parchman
Tom Prisk
Tanner Spears
Jim Tomforde
Ethan Tritt
Gindi Vincent
Karen Welton
Woody Woodruff

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions

Email Us

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the time frame for Trey’s departure so short? It seems that in the past there has been a longer time between the announcement of a pastor’s departure and the actual end of their tenure at Grace.

Though this may seem like a short timeline, Trey shared in his congregational letter that he had been in prayerful reflection about his calling for the past 18 months. Once he felt God lead him to a decision, he didn’t want to delay what God has in store for him and Grace. The late summer and fall are also important times of near-term and long-term planning for Grace, especially during COVID-19, and Trey didn’t want his transition to divert focus. Also, Trey had already planned to be on vacation for much of the month of August and wanted to keep that intact.

Is there any evidence of illegal or immoral activities that prompted this departure?

Absolutely not. Trey is leaving for the reasons stated in his letter. There are no other reasons.

Will there be a vote on Trey’s departure?

Yes. ECO polity requires the congregation to vote on the dissolution of a pastor’s call. The COVID-19 pandemic creates some obstacles to this so we most likely will not take this formal vote until we elect new elders and deacons at our October annual congregational meeting.

Will there be a celebration for Trey before his departure?

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenge for any gathering, and this unfortunately affects what we otherwise would have done to thank and celebrate Trey. We wish it were possible to gather in person to share food, memories, and prayers together. But we are doing our best to adapt, including hosting a car parade to celebrate Trey the afternoon of August 9th.

Trey’s letter said he sees new needs emerging for Grace that will require particular skills. What is he referring to and how does that impact his decision?

If Grace is a house, we have some building and reframing to do. Our attendance and contributions have been in decline and the prolonged uncertainty of COVID-19 means we need to rethink fundamental ways we do worship, ministry, and community life. To continue the metaphor of a house, now is the time to get “down to the studs.” This is work that does not align with Trey’s sense of calling. Trey feels most alive when he is preaching, loving people, and pointing to the big picture—and we have seen him share these gifts in spades. But the work of engineering, designing, and reframing—to get “down to the studs”—is what Trey sees as outside his sweet spot, even though he also feels this is the kind of work Grace needs now. We respect Trey’s willingness to name this. We believe he is acting with confidence in who God made him and eagerness to prioritize the long-term flourishing of Grace.

Is there a way for us to help provide for Trey and his family during this time of transition?

Yes. The Session of Grace is committed to helping Trey during this time of transition. You can support this effort by giving online to the Transition fund at gpch.org/give or by writing a check payable to Grace Presbyterian marked with Transition in the memo line.

Who will lead Grace during this transitional period?

Every ECO congregation is governed by its Session at all times and that will remain the case during the transitional period. Chris French, Associate Pastor for Missional Living, will serve as the acting moderator of the Grace Session.

The Grace staff is led by a leadership team composed of Chris French, Heather Kaemingk, Hardie Morgan, and Angela Simpson. The leadership team will be coordinated by Hardie Morgan, Executive Director for Ministry Support, who will serve as transitional head of staff.

Will we be hiring an interim pastor?

The Grace Session is still developing a plan for this time of transition. Visit www.gpch.org/transition to stay updated.

Will we be establishing a pastor nominating committee?

The Grace bylaws place the responsibility for establishing a pastor nominating committee with the Session. This can include the Session acting as the nominating committee.

What can I do to help?

Most importantly, you can pray for Trey and his family and for Grace. We will be creating opportunities for the congregation to pray together in the coming weeks.

When will we be regathering for worship?

That has not yet been determined. Currently Covid-19 cases are at a record level with new increases every week , consequently regathering at this time does not seem prudent. Members of our leadership team, along with other faith leaders, are on a call with the Houston medical community and government leaders, each Thursday morning. Based on this and other information, members of staff along with the Session will evaluate the feasibility of regathering.

Are there any metrics that you are using to evaluate the feasibility of regathering?

There are no hard and fast metrics for determining whether to regather. But , we do feel that a 14-day decline in the seven-day average of new cases and a seven-day average test positivity rate of less than 10% is a minimum requirement. You can track these statistics at tmc.edu.

Time for Transition…

Lord, help us now to unclutter our lives, to organize ourselves in the direction of simplicity.

Lord, teach us to listen to our hearts; teach us to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, we give you these stirrings inside of us.

We give you our discontent.
We give you our restlessness.
We give you our doubt.
We give you our despair.
We give you all the longings we hold inside.

Help us to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help us to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breath taking empty space of an open door.

Amen.