Besides, Pastor Ken Garrett is quite amazing. He's the most genuine pastor I've ever met, and I've met some awesome ones. Some are teachers, some are performers, some are great with people but drone on in the pulpit, or great speakers but uncomfortable with some of the demands of parishioners. Not Ken.
Ken speaks from his heart. He may or may not have a few notes, but he's never reading them unless he's quoting someone. He wanders around and looks people in the eye while he's speaking. Although I learn a lot, especially biblical history, I don't get the feeling he's preaching most of the time. He's just having a conversation, and those of us in the pews don't have much to say. I don't consider myself a fundamentalist or conservative by any means, and Knute kinda is, and Ken makes it OK to be either, both, neither, anything and everything. He doesn't assume and he never judges.
The best thing about this man, though, is that he walks the talk. He's out in the neighborhood befriending the folks sleeping in the park, the invalids in the subsidized apartments, the disoriented mentally ill, the forgotten veterans, the sick, the lonely, the addicted, the ones who figure God must have forgotten about them. He doesn't make promises he can't keep, and he doesn't try to lure people to church. He just cares, whatever that looks like in the moment.
The church isn't strong or large. Its members are mostly low- or no-income, elderly, disillusioned, hurt along the way by one or more churches that promised a better life. Besides its beautiful 150-year-old building on a good corner lot downtown, it really doesn't have any assets. Except Ken. Ken is worth his weight in gold. I often wish he cared a little bit about promoting the church, because I think more people would benefit from his heart and courage and humility.
If you ever find yourself shaking your head over organized religion, deciding it's not for you, not trusting all the codicils people have attached to the simple message, not trusting people in general, you might want to wander into Grace Bible Church on the corner of SW 12th and Clay one Sunday morning around 10, just out of curiosity. You won't find crowds or video screens or flashy effects or lighting. Just a smattering of neighbors who know a good thing when they see it, hear it, feel it.