How a Room for Play Becomes a Place to Pray

TEAMS is a monthly series that celebrates the talent and impact of those who serve at Hoboken Grace.

Visit the David E. Rue Building any other day of the week and you’ll find a regular gymnasium filled with students from around Hoboken. But come Sunday morning at 9 a.m., the building is transformed into the church we know as Hoboken Grace. It’s all thanks to the persistent efforts of the setup and tear-down teams. Each week, these dedicated individuals strive to bring an empty space to life and make the building ready for worship.

The metamorphosis begins promptly at 7 a.m., when the setup team arrives to start their work.

“It’s a blank gymnasium when we arrive,” said Eric, who has been serving with the team since 2013. “It’s our job to transform that into Hoboken Grace’s space.”

HG_Easter 2016_Averill-5295Starting with just the bare room, the team lays down carpets before arranging the 400 chairs that get set up each week. Supplies are also brought upstairs for Grace Kids. In the meantime, the audio and visual teams get to work setting up the stage, while the hospitality team brings out bagels and coffee.

By the time the first people arrive, everything is ready to go. The entire process takes about an hour and a half, leaving just enough time for a prayer and a cup of coffee before services begin. According to Rick, who got involved with setup about two years ago, it’s an early start to a Sunday morning, but it’s not as bad as one might think.

“Once you get there you feel the energy to get stuff done,” he said.

And at the end of the day, the process goes in reverse. Every last thing from chairs and carpets to door stops and signs gets put back where it belongs thanks to the tear-down team. Everything the church uses is stored inside the school, meaning things need to be put back properly so that everything fits.

Work has also recently increased for both of the teams: A few months ago, service capacity was increased from 300 to 400, which translates to another 100 folding chairs to take out and pack away every week. And on busy weekends like Easter and Christmas, the room needs to accommodate 500 people.

There are nine setup team members and eight tear-down team members in total, though on average there are three or four team members there each week to help out. John Milius organizes both teams, along with the other First Impressions groups. Doug, who serves with tear-down team, enjoys being able to make everything come together from behind the scenes each week.

“There’s pretty much an unlimited amount of work,” said Doug. “Extra hands are always welcome.”

As a part of the setup team, Eric says the best part is getting to spend time with other people while he serves.

“I met a lot of great people,” he said. “It’s not just about transforming the room. It’s sharing that fellowship with people. It’s like going to the gym — no one’s ever regretted it afterward.”


The Setup/Tear-down Teams

Mission: Transforming the space at 301 Garden to create a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for those who join us on Sunday mornings.

The commitment: Serves on Sunday mornings.

How you can join or find out more information: Email

Want to learn more about serving on a team at Hoboken Grace? Attend our Intro to Impact class this Sunday from 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm. You can also join a team here.


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