Mark + Stacey Grapengater
We met in St. Louis when I, Mark, served as an intern in a church plant. Our family includes Michael (4), Evelyn (2) and our boxer dog, Hailey (9). While serving as Assistant Pastor at All Souls Fellowship in Decatur, GA, I felt the call to pursue church planting. In September 2017, the Aspen Grove Church Planting Network assessed us with full recommendation as church planters.
I grew up in Oklahoma in a Christian family, but as is often the case my faith was just following in my parents’ footsteps. It was the summer between 5th and 6th grade that I moved from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. This was an unmooring of my life and I had to find an anchor. As I began to get involved in the youth group at Kirk of the Hills, I began to see that through the storms of life, no matter where I was taken, Jesus would and could be my anchor. As these confessions do, it changed the direction of my life. In eighth grade I had the privilege of praying with my best friend to receive Christ. Throughout high school, I went on mission trips to Mexico and Costa Rica. At Kansas State University, I was involved with The Navigators campus ministry. Through these experiences, I began to powerfully feel God’s calling into professional ministry and decided to go to pursue my Masters in Divinity at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. Because I had experienced God’s anchor in my life through Jesus Christ and how He has kept me from going down destructive paths in my own life, I want other people to hear the good news of Jesus and find their anchor in Him just as I have, living in God’s love, joy, peace and grace. It is this burden that propels me to church planting.
Stacey grew up in Milwaukee in a Christian family and attended Lutheran schools surrounded by Christian friends and adults. She attended college at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where the faith supports of family and friends weren't present. Through these faith meandering years and in a variety of means through a number of people, God's presence and love became real in a new and personal way. Upon graduating, Stacey served as a missionary in Japan for 3.5 years, teaching English and Bible studies, while building friendships that continue to this day. Following her time in Japan, she worked for that same mission sending organization in St. Louis for 9 years. In Atlanta, Stacey transitioned to the role of stay-at-home mom as their family began, while occasionally doing contract and volunteer work. During her 5 years there, God allowed her to use her passion for connecting people through teaching and mentoring in the women's ministry, co-hosting a small group in their home and writing devotionals for the local church.
We have both worked in the hospitality industry and carry these skills and training into our ministry. Our desire to show hospitality to the stranger flows from God’s extension of hospitality shown toward us through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ on the cross. Through this passion, God has given us fruitful relationships with those both inside and outside the church, creating communities centered on Jesus.
It has been amazing to see how God has led us to Denver. We resonate with the culture of the urban West and have a heart for those who do not yet know the love and grace of Jesus. We are liturgically-minded — believing that the form of worship on Sunday mornings shapes and molds us for our interaction with the world around us the rest of the week. We are sacramentally-minded — believing that God uses the material things of this world to display His love, grace and mercy in this world. We are mission-minded — believing that not only one new church needs to be planted, but that churches need to be continually planting churches so that more people can be invited into a relationship with Christ.