Hoboken Grace started with a dream to impact this city and the thousands of people who call Hoboken home. That dream began coming to life 10 years ago, when a tiny church plant held its first service in a bingo hall. That first year, services were held once a month, with only a few dozen people showing up.
Ever since, Hoboken Grace’s mission has been to help people find their way back to God. Over the past decade, that mission has taken shape in countless ways: handing out tens of thousands of granola bars, throwing hundreds of out-of-the-box connection events and inviting the entire city to a free Easter Egg Hunt (to name just a few examples).
It’s been incredible to see the many lives God has changed throughout this journey, and we can’t wait to celebrate with you this Sunday.
So how do you measure the past 10 years at Hoboken Grace? Here are 10 ways.
Over 10 years – and about 510 Sundays – services have taken place at 5th and Willow, Willie McBride’s, Hoboken High School, and of course, 301 Garden. They’ve been held in snow, rain, blistering heat and — that one time after a gas leak — exclusively over the internet.
Just last Sunday, we celebrated with two more people as they took the step of baptism! Among those taking the step were Stephanie, who has attended Hoboken Grace since the very first service, and Hope, who has grown up in TRUE Mentors, an organization the church launched seven years ago. As we celebrate all that God has done since Hoboken Grace started, the more than 300 people who have taken the step of baptism is just a glimpse of the many lives changed over the past 10 years. (Just don’t ask how many champagne bottles have been uncorked in the process … we’ve lost track!)
When Hoboken Grace began 10 years ago, Pastor Chris and a team of four others began committing random acts of kindness all over Hoboken, calling it Simple Service. Simple Service has one goal: Through a small act of kindness, we can show a bit of how God has loved us. Throughout the years, we’ve handed out granola bars to hungry commuters at the PATH and Light Rail stations. We’ve handed out waters to those playing basketball at Church Square Park, and warmers to passersby on cold winter nights. And over the past two summers, we gave out thousands of bags of free popcorn at Movies Under the Stars.
Hoboken Grace’s mission of helping people find their way back to God means inviting individuals through Simple Service, bus stop ads and word of mouth. All first-time guest are a huge celebration, and the more than 200 people who serve each week strive to make them feel both comfortable and valued.
When Hoboken Grace started, there was no official kids ministry – just a few toys and a mat in a corner of the service area. During those small, 6 p.m. services, it was exciting if even one child showed up. Ten years later, there are over 150 kids attending Grace Kids each week and more than 60 team members teaching them about Jesus.
When it comes to helping people find their way back to God, there’s no denying the power of telling your story. Our Writing, Photo, Social Media, Web and Video teams have helped hundreds of people share how God has moved in their lives. Those 425 stories can be found on our blog and stories page.
Over 10 years, there’s been nearly every kind of connection event imaginable. Rock climbing? Check. Skiing? Check. Skydiving? Yup, we even did that once. Creating community requires going outside your comfort zone.
Ten years ago, dinner groups started with just one group. There are now 50, with more than 500 people active in a dinner group. That includes several people who are apprenticing to become leaders, so even more people can experience that sense of community. In addition to men, women and couple’s groups, there are now family groups, an online group, and groups for middle school and high school students.
Hoboken Grace has held a free Easter Egg Hunt each year since 2010. But for the past two years, there have been two hunts at Mama Johnson Field to accommodate as many people as possible. More than 5,000 adults and children registered last year.
Hundreds of volunteers have participated in 1Day over the years, serving on projects touching ever corner of the city. Projects have included serving local businesses, schools and other organizations, as well as cleaning up parks and the waterfront. It’s just one of the ways we’ve worked to love our city and its residents.
It’s been an amazing 10 years, and we can’t wait to celebrate with you this Sunday!