The Merger: It’s Like… Well… Like When Julia Gets Married

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In a few short days, Shady Grove Church and Gateway Church will merge. Like all transitions, the journey has been winding and replete with a myriad of steps and emotions that have brought us to this day. Here are some of the feelings I have had or I have heard others express as they have worked through the events and emotions of change… Shock, pain, tears, floods of memories, questions about the past and future, fear, faith, a few “Whys?”, joy, excitement, eagerness.  All of this has had lots of prayer and counsel.

The good news is, the community who have made Shady Grove Church our home for one day or forty years, not alone. We make the step together. More good news is our leaders are trustworthy. Thirty plus years of oversight proves this point. But mostly, God is trustworthy. He is in the details and the big picture of this move.

I met my husband there, adopted and raised my daughter with that community. We all know church is not about a building but a people of God. We had many years of great teaching, caring leadership, revival, and worship that brought the presence of God into the sanctuary. In that place, we knelt and cried and embraced the form of the unseen Creator through the person of Jesus. We learned how to bring Him home and live each day with what we were taught. We learned how to love Him by loving each other. We learned how to laugh — even that we must laugh to go on…

At Shady Grove, my husband and I received a call to missions that first became a financial gift, a weekly offering that turned into many short-term mission trips that became a lifestyle, a calling. We had to answer, “Whom shall I send?”. We had to go and live abroad for ten years. Shady Grove believed and sent us to the mission field. Since then, we have learned to come and go and have seen churches all over the world. All that traveling taught us in reality that there is no place like home — no place like home that serves the kind of comfort food for hard times and joyous times. There is just no place like Shady Grove.

So I guess I am sentimental as we all make this next step and the day draws closer that our name will no longer be “Shady Grove.” I don’t know exactly what to expect, except that I know God is good and His plans for the future are perfect for me, for all of us.

I guess the merger is sort of like, well, like Julia getting married. When she joins her life with another man, she won’t be a “Wilks. ” She takes a new name, very different from the one her daddy gave her. But the point is: She is still the same little girl we brought home from Guatemala City, adopted, and that we loved and embraced as our own flesh and blood. She will always be ours. But her name will be different. Her DNA is ours, and she will carry that in her heart and give it away. Her upbringing comes from us, and it is a part of her gift to her husband.

Julia’s new husband will seem strange to us in the beginning, but God destined him to be flesh and blood. We will embrace him as family.

Yes, we won’t be “Shady Grove.” We will be “Gateway Church.” It seems impossible, but our DNA is the same. We have the same pastor/father, the same Father above, the same upbringing, the same values. We are from the same family. Maybe our culture has grown different but in the things in life that matter: We are the same.

I imagine when Julia gets married there will be great joy and happiness. There will laughing and celebration. There will be plans and talk of the future. I also know the day will come when she will make her home with her new husband  and not live with us. In all the gladness of the occasion, there will be some lonely times and tears for her daddy and me. Our baby will be gone, and life will not ever be the same. But the joy of new birth and godly seed and tomorrow will overtake the momentary sadness that will shadow us for a short time.

After all, none of this life is permanent. If this life doesn’t bring us together with members of the body of Messiah, heaven will. In that place above, there will be no names, but His name alone.  No shining lights, but His light alone. That is what this life is about! Making Him famous. I believe God knows that the best way the salt of the earth from Shady Grove Church can prepare the way of the Lord in these last days is to join our sister church. We have something to offer, and they have something to offer. And the two together will be launched farther than we ever dreamed. We will be shot into the world to reach a great sphere to be released with great force and power. To. Hit. The. Mark.

Yes, it’s the end of a glorious era, and I have so many to thank. Mainly thank you to the godly, selfless pastors — Olen and Syble Griffing, who have given the most. Many wells have been dug at Shady Grove Church, alabaster boxes broken, songs sung at midnight, sacrifices of praises, banners waved, worship in holiness, foundations laid, and souls rescued, healed and sent out. Shady Grove may your streams continue to flow into all the world.

Glorious days stretch before us. The best is yet to be!

I created this place for Shady Grovers to recollect a memory, write down a moment, to say thank you for all that we received in the last few decades. Wayne and I want to thank the pastors and elders, teachers, servants, staff, and volunteers who all contributed to leaving an eternal impact on our lives. We will always warmly and fondly remember our days and years at the Grove. It was an honor to serve and to be a tiny part of a plan that was bigger than any of us.

My favorite memories are two: Monthly staff meetings in the hospitality room with lunch and raucous laughter. So many of the elders and staff were great story tellers, and the archives of stories got funnier and funnier over the years. When we first went to the mission field, I missed those moments the most as far as community bonding and closeness. It takes years to get to know people like we knew each other.

My second memory is of worship itself in the sanctuary — the times of stillness, great rejoicing, hushed holiness, awesome prophetic impartation, dance, teaching, processionals, preaching. God drew us there, and His goodness passed by us!

Below are a few of the comments that I gleaned from a Facebook entry. I am just recording them here for posterity.

Hilda Simmons – Bonnie, I love this…..you stated it so well. We saw wonderful years at SGC and as you said, there are more Glorious days ahead. God is full of surprises. I do believe we “haven’t seen anything yet” to what is ahead.

Kim Yates – The best is yet to be. I’m so happy to be with so many familiar faces. Love you guys!!!!

Juan J. Constantino – I can’t wait!

Tom Schueleter – Many of us drank from those wells

Phyllis Scroggins – Yes and Amen…!!!…………

Ashley Standford – I have some amazing memories at the grove.

Syble Rose Griffing = Wow! What memories!! Bonnie, as usual you’ve said it so well! But, my oh, my what we have ahead of us!

Marie Johnson – Many “stones” that were laid in my life are from 19 years at the Grove! My heart is grateful to pastor Olen & Syble, who poured their lives out, as well as you, Bonnie and Wayne and so many others!!! Beautiful, fond, glorious memories and the best is yet to come….exciting!

Cynthia Nelson Nurss – Worship and intercession brings forth answers sometimes that surprise us! So blessed God set me at SGC 1999-2006! Even more excited to see God work through our prayers in the metroplex in the days to come as we labor in unity!

Hannah Briscoe – Amen. My home and family since before I was born. Looking forward to journeying on together.

Teresa Coyne – Amen!

Kerry Kirkwood – The deposits made here will never lose its affects but will continue to produce seeds of life into the next generation.

Hilda Simmons – Love, love love all these wonderful comments and really appreciate what Tom Schlueter said……”many of us drank from these wells.” Isn’t that the truth…..and there’s more to come.

Mary Jo Pierce – I “grew up” in the spirit at Shady Grove. From this “altar” of prayer and intercession and worship and nations will come forth all that God has said. Excited to be a part of past, present and future!

Shelly Key – I am with what Mary Jo said… not only did “I” grow up spiritually at Shady Grove but my 4 children were born and raised spiritually at SGC. None of us — myself, my family, my children — would be who we are today had it not been for SGC and Pastor Olen and Syble and the leadership there. God used you guys to make us all who we are today. Even though my family is grown now and we have not been at SGC for years now, I still to this day recount lessons and words from God that we received while there those 15+ yrs. We still consider Pastor Olen our “pastor”. Good memories! Thank you all!

AI Kaplan – Oh wow! I had no idea. Many blessings to come. Yes, I love you Pastor Olen, and Greens… and Dunns…

Marlie Espinosa – Wow!! A merge?? I look forward to hearing all! Just may get in the middle that!! I’ve been praying for direction. Love all my pastors from SGC, including P. Olen, Gary, Robert, Wayne, Bill, etc!! Words cannot express what I received over the years, including a servant’s heart.

Donna Austin – Yes….treasured memories….there is one memory that I have tucked inside my heart when I first came to S.G.C. in 1984…I think we had only been there a few months when Tim went to the Altar and asked the congregation to pray for his wife (me) because I was in the hospital and had gone blind due to MS. The WHOLE church fervently prayed and I got my eyesight back in 2 weeks. Thank you wonderful people of Shady Grove….we love you!

Charles Simmons – This is where I learned to worship in spirit and truth.

Yes Donna Austin – Yes, Charles and I remember putting you on a prayer healing list and people signed up to pray for you and I think there was some good results from all that…huh?

Donna Austin – I think buckets of love poured out in your heart Charles and mine too that people cared for us….enough to PRAY for us…this was big for me!

Hilda Simmons – My heart is so touched by all these words. I know the Griffings must be totally blessed by all these words of praise and affection/love for them.Fran Vaughn – This brought tears to my eyes! God showed me his presence in such apowerful way when I was there! I saw God move in ways that can not even express. I still feel so apart of this body and my family! I will always love you and have a special place in my heart.

Connie Briscoe – Wow! way to make one come face to face with the reality of what God has done and is doing at Shady Grove and shed a few tears in the process. Good verbalization Bonnie! God moved Phil and I to Shady Grove Church one month after we married 39 1/2 years ago and we have been so blessed as a result! We will continue to embrace all that God has as we walk on as Gateway Grand Prairie campus. Praise The Lord!


28 thoughts on “The Merger: It’s Like… Well… Like When Julia Gets Married

  1. There are so many things that could be said. So much love and so many tears that have been shared. But my favorite memory is that of Pastor Olen telling us the story of David returning the ark to Jerusalem. I will never forget the part about the blessings that fell upon Obed-Edom’s house. It seemed like every time he told the story, the watermelons got bigger and bigger and bigger.

  2. Memories of Shady Grove, Volume 1….I’m sure there will be more. I remember the special way my I joined the SGC family. My son, Joel (now 28), had finished 3rd grade in public school, and I really wanted him to be able to learn and share Jesus in school. I had heard about SGCA, and enrolled him for his 4th grade year. 2/3 of the way through that year, his dad brought him home, but they lingered in the car, talking. I was thinking, “Uh oh”. AS it turns out, revival hit the academy that day, and he was one of 3 boys that were taken to heaven. One of the teachers wrote in a transcript the things he spoke, in English, while out in the Spirit. They were definitely not words of a 4th grader. She said he was also speaking in other tongues….I guess she couldn’t get that down…lol. The next day, I got a call that things were again happening at the academy. So, I rushed over, going to Joel’s room. The power of God was so strong, I had to lean against the chalk board in order to walk over to the teacher. She looked at me, smiling, shrugging her shoulders, and said, “I don’t know why He started with THIS room. All of the kids were out in the spirit. One by one, they went. Obviously excited and beside myself with joy, I was going to have to find out for myself what was happening at this place called Shady Grove Church. There began my 12 year journey with such a wonderful family.

    1. I haven’t been at Shady Grove in a while, but I will always have fond memories of my “growing up years” there. I have had many friends and mentors from there that have helped me see more of a picture of who God really is. I want to thank everyone of you who loved me and helped me walk more closely with my Lord. There are too many to mention each of you by name, but you know who you are. Some of my most precious memories are worshiping in youth, young adults, singles, home groups as well as the main services. I also appreciate the privilege of being able to be sent out by Shady Grove on a couple of mission trips. It was a pleasure to serve in the children’s ministry. I met my precious husband there who is the love of my life. How special that so many of you could be a part of our wedding day and see the lives of my children come to fruition. It is with tears that I end this with “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” Blessings, everyone!

  3. This is so AWESOME !! Like the marriage of two BEST FRIENDS…Shady Grove and Gateway…such incredible memories in both Churches!

  4. Mom and Dad gave me their blessings to move back to Texas after college. I step into Shady Grove church in 1983 and for the next 13 years I grew up learning what it means to live and worship in the presence of God. Shady Grove gave me a spiritual learning experience that set the course of my life. The friendships of the body of the church and the guidance of the elders gave me the tools I needed to become the worshiper of the utmost high God. Shady Grove will always hold a very special place in my life.

  5. Wonderful memories! Weekends at Prayer Center, Family Camp at Estes Park, His presence during corporate worship and life long friendships.

  6. Bonnie, you are so good with words that I find it hard to beat what you have already stated. There could be volumes written about how lives were changed at Shady Grove Church. Charles and I learned so many things there over a period of 26 years under the pastoral leadership of Olen and Syble Griffing. We would not take anything for the experience. The worship was so refreshing, and when we first arrived there we would just stand looking all around us, enthralled with what we were seeing and experiencing. We had never experienced anything like it in all our church life. I had the joy of serving on staff at Shady Grove for 14 years.

    When we became part of Gateway Church we knew we must embrace this NEW thing God had led us into so we opened our hearts to learn what God was wanting to do in our lives. This scripture became very real to Charles and me as we embraced the “new”.

    “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

    For many Gateway will be new wine. We had to be willing to move forward with new things God was wanting to do in our lives so that we did not remain with the “old wineskin” mentality. With this merger will come new ideas and a new style of ministry,(new wine). For some this might be hard because it is different from what they have grown accustomed to, however, we have found that the key is having a willing heart and allow God to tenderize our wineskins in order to embrace the new thing God wants to do. God will do the rest. We need to remember that God loves us so much, He never closes a door without leading us through a new door of opportunities and blessings. We are all part of the Family and it’s going to be GOOD!

    Hilda

  7. So many, many, many precious memories I hold in my heart from these almost 38 years at SGC. To have been a part of it from the almost the beginning has been such a blessing and life-changing experience. Now a new chapter is starting, and Gary & I are looking forward to what wonderful things God will do next. Bring it on, Lord!

  8. I will never forget the presence of The Lord during my first Sunday worship service at Shady Grove in the fall of 1979. Friends, family, and the Holy Spirit a tightly woven tapestry. SGCA, missions, worship, and the prophetic ministry… all precious and life changing. Though my heart is heavy, I know and trust God’s blessing will both lead and uphold the Shady Grove Church family.

  9. I realize I have HEALING STORIES….but I remember one Saturday night when I came to the service back in 1998…I went down for prayer and the Holy Spirit fell on me and I laid on the floor for over 2 hours shaking quietly under the power of H.S. and was healed of MS AND PANIC ATTACKS…..never been the same since! PTL!!!

  10. This brought tears to my eyes! God showed me his presence in such apowerful way when I was there! I saw God move in ways that can not even express. I still feel so apart of this body and my family! I will always love you and have a special place in my heart.

  11. Blessings to you all during this transition and change. I have fond memories of so many friends from SGC through the years.

  12. Shady Grove was the place of my growing up years in the Lord. We moved to the Metroplex because we felt led to come to Shady Grove. After many years there, my husband felt we were to move to another body to worship. It saddened me, but I went. I’ve been to a couple of other sweet fellowships since then, but about a year ago, I started going to Gateway. I kept being drawn back for about 3 months and was praying and asking to hear the Lord if this was where I was to be. While there are some things in the format of the services that are different, it dawned on me one Sunday during the service that it felt like home. It felt like Shady Grove home, which I hadn’t felt in so long. It’s big and coming in new there, it’s taking some time for me to find my niche there, but the heart and vision, and mission are very much like Shady Grove. I’m contented and feel a peace in my spirit that this is right and good. God has good things in store.

  13. I first heard of Shady Grove on a cruise ship elevator in the Carribean! From Baptists, no less! Doug moved to Texas from Nebraska first. He called to tell me that when I arrived, and attended Shady Grove, I would not only fit right in, but I would think I’d have died and gone to heaven on a Sunday morning! Impatient, I opened a sermon audio online. Right there in my home office in Nebraska, the heavens opened as I listened, and I was “slain” in His Presence on the floor! Holy Spirit intercession rushed from my spirit into the atmosphere! I was a worship intercessor before God took me to Shady Grove, but at Shady Grove I enjoyed freedom to worship in spirit and truth unlike any other place. I anticipate with joyful expectancy what the Lord will do through the merging of His church in the DFW metroplex over the wells of worship and intercession.

  14. Ron and I knew we were home the first time we came in 1978. Such a blessing in our lives, I could go on but-. He has much more for myself and my family coming next.

  15. It was here in building 1 that I gave my heart to Christ, I was married to my wonderful wife, Marci Purtell, in Building 2, and was discipled in the famous 42 weeks, in the Academy Building. I grew from a child, to a man, and started my own family. To say SGC is a part of who I am would be the obvious. I was trained by Ron Camp, and others, then had the opportunity in turn, to train others and share my life with the Usher team for more than 15 years. My dad Vance R Purtell for many years ran the sound ministry, and mom, filled in as Nursery Organizer, and later ran the tape ministry. I grew up serving the people by opening doors, handing out bulletins, picking up trash, and anything else I could, because you see, that’s what was expected in my family, they reared me right in that. I learned to love the Jewish people, first from Olen Griffing and later grew in that love as we sowed the one of best of our leaders Wayne & Bonnie Saul Wilks to a far away place, Ukraine, to start a school, MJBI. One of my Hero’s Jim Morton also stepped out and dedicated many years of his life to seeing a ministry develop in a small building, or two or three, in the downtown area of Grand Prairie, that grew into a metroplex wide ministry and birthed a international ministry called PTC and PTC Int’l. Through MJBI, PTC, and a few other of my early hero’s that gave up their life here in the USA to spend it on seeing others come to Christ in far away places, like Tim & Robin Watson, I learned to give sacrificially to Missions often equaling or exceeding my tithe. The building of the Prayer Center (ANHOP) particularly impacted my heart, as we dedicated new land by prioritizing on seeing a place of prayer and fasting established in the heart of the Metroplex. But the single most important thing I can say is that I was brithed into the worship of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ here by a man that told the most wonderful stories I’ve ever heard. Stories about working in the Texas Highway Patrol, G-d’s intervention in his daily life, ones about Heathcliff & Joe (two little eaglets), and most importantly David and Obed-Edom the King of Israel that would dance “foolishly” before the Lord, and a farmer that would leave his flourishing fields to be a door keeper in the house of the Lord. This man, Olen Griffing, first my pastor, then my Mentor, Father in the faith to me and so many others, Inspired, challenged, corrected (hey I was 6 when I started there), encouraged, prophesied to, and loved me, led me into a love of worshiping the One true G-d in spirit and in truth, and for that and so much more I am grateful.

  16. My first visit to Shady Grove Church (1989) I sat in worship with tears streaming down my face. Someone carried the JESUS banner down the aisle next to me and I sensed Jesus HIMSELF walking past me. I got on my knees and when I got up I was a different person. Thus began a season (1991-2001) of transforming worship, prayer, preaching and friendships that carry me today. Syble teaching on Spiritual Gifts, Marriage Group in Olen and Sybles living room, working on the Open Window with Bonnie, newsletters for each Cell District, weddings, prophetic ministry and the list goes on … did I say crazy canasta! Learning to love Israel and the nations … driving up to the building wit the flags standing like faithful soldiers marking this place as “a house of prayer for all nations,” Bruce traveling with Wayne and Val to Ukraine on the first MJBI fact finding trip. Being there the day the Prayer Center was dedicated was a moment I’ll never forget! Bruce and I would go there every week for our personal prayer time. Gary establishing prayer in that place. My heart being enlarged for prayer, intercession, service.

    Marked me. With the love of Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. Understanding Church and Community and family …

    Past Present Future … God promises for the CHURCH are Yes and Amen. We get to be a part!

  17. My training, calling, and formation occurred at Shady Grove Church (SGC). I met my beloved wife and dedicated my precious daughter at SGC. I was ordained an elder at SGC in 1988 and from here was sent to the mission field in 1996. My family has been touched by God and so many special relationships at SGC. My experiences in God are vast in this house. I count it a great privilege to have Olen and Syble as spiritual parents these many years. I served under Pastors Olen, Gary and Jon these many years. They are great men of God. And I am deeply honored to now serve under Pastor Robert who is such a fine man. I believe the merge is of God, and will be a huge blessing to those presently at Shady Grove Church. I walked together with the elders of Shady Grove Church through this process. All the elders unanimously agree that God is clearly directing this way. And the elders of Gateway Church are such honorable and gracious men. We will be blessed to be under the covering of Gateway Church as we now continue in our corporate and individual journeys serving God’s Matchless Kingdom.

  18. How can a person be so loved, so nurtured, released into giftings under wise oversight as I have been at Shady Grove? The care and guidance and prayer and pastoring I received from Shady Grove carries on to THIS DAY, though I have not attended Shady Grove since 1997. Relationships forged in that true community are still heart ties today. And SG is where I met my husband!

    To think how we sat in the presence of God week after week, singing with all of our hearts in total abandon! It gave me courage and set me free to flow in His giftings. I guess Love does that.

    Never underestimate the power of the laughter at those staff meetings. In 1991, when I was the assistant children’s pastor, my office was on the other side of the wall from the Hospitality Room. Even through the walls I was infected by the laughter at the elders meetings. What a happy time.

    I was the teacher who discovered the boy named Joel laying in the back of the sanctuary after the spirit fell in chapel in 1994. I wrote every dreamy word he said during his “tour” of heaven. When he woke up, I asked, “Hi, Joel–do you know where you were?” He nodded, eyes wide. “I was in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ!” Then Wayne and Julean Benedict came over with another boy who had been lying in the front of the sanctuary, also having a tour of heaven. The two boys began recounting where they had been, and what they had seen. Wayne began peppering them with intricate questions about heaven’s gates, pearls, walls, streets, lampstands–all of the questions the boys answered easily and matter of factly. Wayne’s eyes were as wide as the boys’.

    In 1994, I left teaching at the academy, to go back to my hometown in Ohio to get a Master’s degree, and worked at the local homeless shelter. It was exciting, but very spiritually draining. I often would fly in during that period and head straight to the prayer center, which had overnight prayer rooms at that time. I would fast, pray and then go over to the church and visit the staff in their offices. Everyone (I particularly remember Yvonne Gerdt) would pour into me such love and encouragement, I would fully recover and blossom again.

    Thank you for all that love, Shady Grove. Thank you, forever.

    1. WOW!!!! Hylie!! It’s so good to hear from on here! I’ve always remembered you through the years!! I’m so grateful you were by Joel’s side that day! I still have the transcript! Joel is now a gorgeous 6’2″! man. Thank you for taking the time that day to be beside him! Much love to you!!

  19. I began attending Shady Grove Church while attending Christ for the Nations and end up spending nearly 20 years there. I was honored to serve in the Missions Department for 7 1/2 years and Shady Grove Christian Academy for 4 years.

    During my time at SGC I met and married my wife Terri Lugenheim and birthed and raised our three sons (Christian, Caleb & Joshua) there.

    There are not words that could express how much SGC has meant to me over the years. I always say “You can take me out of Shady Grove Church, but you can’t take Shady Grove Church out of me”. Blessings!

  20. My history of coming to Shady Grove Church is one of a bit different. My son Jon and his wife Laurinda along with their young son Andrew had moved here specifically to go to Shady Grove Church. I honestly did not like what I was hearing about the church as I grew up not believing in the gifts of the Spirit and all that goes with that,and at that time I thought dancing and whatever was going on at Shady Grove was pure nonsensical.I grew up in a church that was not moving in that direction and as far as that goes was really not going much of anywhere but stagnated.After Jon and family moved here we were going on vacation and only because my wife insisted we came on a Sunday to Shady Grove for our very first time.My wife was elated and I was to say the least flabbergasted. I said to myself ,and definitely not to my wife,these people are just plain crazy,but I did like the singing so I got some of the worship tapes and began to listen to them .Over the next few months the worship tapes must have been blessed by some type of intercession as my heart began to change and I began to melt under His power.The next time we came down to visit my wife and I both ended up on the floor on our knees ,crying and from that day on we were hooked by the fishing hand of our God. We moved to this area over 20 years ago and pastor Olen,pastor Gary and pastor Jon have all been very important parts of our lives.I will admit that at the very first I was very sad to learn that the merger might be coming ,but I also remembered that what I really wanted was what my pastors had always taught us and that was if you are going to follow God you had better be ready for change because He leads us and with Him even though He is an unchanging God, He still leads us into many changes and when He is leading it is ALWAYS good. I am pleased that we are going to merge with Gateway .Pastor Robert Morris is a proven and tried man of God and one that I respect very much. l look forward to what all God has for all of us as we serve Him with one heart and one mind ,not forgetting what has been but looking ahead to what is and what is going to be.
    May the Father bless us as we go.

  21. I’ve had a connection of one kind or another with the community of Shady Grove Church for 40 years, in each of her locations, and it is hard to imagine what is on the other side of this transition even though I have the greatest of expectations. God has shown His faithfulness in every season and every transition and this is just another opportunity for Him to display His great GLORY!

    I joined Shady Grove in 1979 when I was a 17 year old in the youth group and now I am a grandmother. I met my husband at Shady Grove, my children were born, dedicated, raised and met their spouses at Shady Grove and have now dedicated their sons at her altar.

    There are not enough words, not enough time to tell, all that it has meant to me, all that I have learned, all that I have experienced in the presence of God. The people of Shady Grove have been the town I grew up in! The leadership and members have been my counselors, parents, mentors, teachers, coaches, cheerleaders, travel guides, shepherds, teammates, friends and siblings! The way our lives are intertwined and locked together in experiences with each other in the presence of God and day to day living will endure through eternity!

  22. Wow ! I spent 22+ years at Shady Grove – where I learned the meaning of the word WORSHIP… went through the 42 weeks or Orientation –> TWICE !!! The first time when the second building was just a shell, and there were light bulbs hanging from wires – it was cold… Joe Oakley did a lot of the teaching…. the second time, with my wonderful husband Sid – who almost got whiplash the first day he experienced worship at the 10am service ! (I brought him out from a very quiet and calm Methodist church ) and he could not believe his eyes when he saw all those people dancing and waving banners ! and the service without a bulletin, without a “program”— where the Holy Spirit is the leader and we would sing and dance and SWEAT !!! yes! sweat… and we worshiped for 1 and maybe 2 hours non-stop ! — but he liked it, his spirit was awakened and it did not take him long to get right into it ! I took my teenage children there – I took my grandchildren there — and Sid and I received our Presbitery there ! Our ministry started there — slowly at first, and then…. we had to move to out of state…. I thought my heart would break…. Now we are back in Texas, and live too far to commute every Sunday to the new building on Carrier – but our hearts will always have a warm spot for Shady Grove Church and the memories with people therein – Love you Olan and Syble – you have impacted generations at that blessed place – and now a new chapter is starting – seeds you have planted yourselves — part of your legacy…. May God bless you all.

  23. I know there were some complaints, but I who can deny that 42 weeks to First Principilize was the mark of endurance that bound us together? I was privileged to have Aaron and Florence Rose in my group and Guy and Linda Anderson as our group leaders. The joy of 42 weeks was immortalized in the song by the Beene’s home group. (sung to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies) Sunday night Family nights were the best! As a young woman, I was new to Texas and I thank everyone that made this my family and my home for 28 years.

  24. Didn’t realize the service honoring Bro. Olen, Gary, and Jon was yesterday until 7:20 or we would have driven 4 1/2 hours to attend. Boy, what an emotional day! It was actually 52 weeks of First Principles when I went through in 1986! I was at Shady Grove and played French horn there for about 15 years, but have kept up with news and visited each year when I am in the area. I cannot even begin to describe how much that Shady Grove means to me! I have and always will consider it home. I found the best of friends and many of my mentors at Shady Grove.

    We have been so blessed to hear such wonderful sermons from Bro. Olen, our incredible elders, and from special guests like Joy Dawson, Charlotte Baker, and Fuchsia Pickett. What incredible music talent we had, too! Not many churches can have a modern day music genius like David Holsinger as one of the many talented musicians. He brought much joy and enthusiasm as he stood at the piano and led us into high praise. Who but a David Holsinger could eclipse Mimi Ribble’s talent? What beautiful songs she gave to our Body! I have never seen another choir director with as much musicianship as Warren Hastings, who could direct the orchestra well, play the trumpet, write wonderful songs, and lead us into the very Holy of holies. Vivien Hibbert challenged us in the orchestra to discover new sounds on our instruments to proclaim His glory and she played several Australian instruments with haunting beauty. It is hard to rival the singers of Shady Grove such as Candy McCall and her pure, sweet voice captured on tape (yes, cassette tape) in I Set my Gaze and far too many other singers to name. Each worship leader brought to the spotlight a different facet of God’s character: Monty Smith’s intense passion for God with songs like I’m Abandoned to The Captain and I Give You my Heart, Gary’s joyful pursuit of God demonstrated with The Happy Song and Even More Undignified than This, and Bill Leckie with Better is One Day in Your House. So many wonderful songs were birthed at Shady Grove: We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise, Lord of Glory, Make My Life an Offering, Commune with Me, Jesus You are my Great Love, and Cover Me, to name a few. Remember Paula Clark playing her violin with such beauty and intimacy with God over someone and they would be healed? I remember Gary Benjamin coming all the way to Aledo for my sister’s funeral (thank you, Gary, it meant a lot to me and spoke to the unsaved in my family) and his stories about taking Jerri to the drive-in theatre (and driving off with the speaker still attached to the window) and how one of the boys filled his car with the water hose while he slept through a golf game on TV. I remember the first time that Jon Dunn gave a prophetic word; this booming voice from way back in the sanctuary gave a powerful word and I knew that this man would do much in the kingdom. I remember church picnics, Family Night, Proclaim His Presence, great students and teachers and staff at Shady Grove Christian Academy, great fellowship, bodies sprawled across the sanctuary floor while lives were changed forever soaking in a different expression of His Presence, and intimate times with God at the Prayer and Fasting Center, later known as ANHOP. Just because I have not mentioned your name does not mean that you have not impacted my life and spirit either. I have so many pictures emblazoned on my memory of when I would open my eyes and see a sea of worshippers and catch some beautiful expression of loving God. We are forever intertwined in the strongest of bonds because we worshipped and loved God together. And all of us had one goal and heart . . . simply to love and adore our awesome God with all that was within us. We used everything as “expressions of our love” from banners to beautiful dances for our King to mime to marches around the sanctuary to long periods of a holy hush as we were awed into silence. We would linger together after the services because of the bonds that were forged from being in His Presence together. I, for one, have been “ruined” for good by the most awesome and glorious Presence of such a wonderful God! I can never be satisfied with any less!!! I carry each of you in memory in my own worship times!

    I have no chapter and verse for this, but I somehow think that there will come a time in eternity when God will turn to us and request some Shady Grove Church worship! Regardless of whether that is true or not, I am certainly looking forward to being able to worship Jesus in heaven with glorified bodies that never tire and that can hold notes for days and that can dance and sing and preach with new capabilities and we never have to stop and go eat (because Bro. Olen made us all hungry an hour ago with his detailed descriptions of yummy food :o)). Thank you, Bro. Olen, for leading us all into the Presence of God and helping us to remember that everything truly is about Jesus and that if we will simply love and worship Him, everything else will fall into place rather than working ourselves to a frazzle trying to serve Him, thereby missing out on a wonderful personal relationship with the most awesome God! Our hearts and spirits are full and blessed and overflowing because of you because you pointed us and, even better, led us to Jesus!

  25. Didn’t realize the service honoring Bro. Olen, Gary, and Jon was yesterday until 7:20 or we would have driven 4 1/2 hours to attend. Boy, what an emotional day! It was actually 52 weeks of First Principles when I went through in 1986! I was at Shady Grove and played French horn there for about 15 years until I moved to Colorado, but have kept up with news and visited each year when I am in the area. I cannot even begin to describe how much that Shady Grove means to me! I have and always will consider it home. I found the best of friends and many of my mentors at Shady Grove.

    We have been so blessed to hear such wonderful sermons from Bro. Olen, our incredible elders, and from special guests like Joy Dawson, Charlotte Baker, and Fuchsia Pickett. What incredible music talent we had, too! Not many churches can have a modern day music genius like David Holsinger as one of the many talented musicians. He brought much joy and enthusiasm as he stood at the piano and led us into high praise. Who but a David Holsinger could eclipse Mimi Ribble’s talent? What beautiful songs she gave to our Body! I have never seen another choir director with as much musicianship as Warren Hastings, who could direct the orchestra well, play the trumpet, write wonderful songs, and lead us into the very Holy of holies. Vivien Hibbert challenged us in the orchestra to discover new sounds on our instruments to proclaim His glory and she played several Australian instruments with haunting beauty. It is hard to rival the singers of Shady Grove such as Candy McCall and her pure, sweet voice captured on tape (yes, cassette tape) in I Set my Gaze and far too many other singers to name. Each worship leader brought to the spotlight a different facet of God’s character: Monty Smith’s intense passion for God with songs like I’m Abandoned to The Captain and I Give You my Heart, Gary’s joyful pursuit of God demonstrated with The Happy Song and Even More Undignified than This, and Bill Leckie with Better is One Day in Your House. So many wonderful songs were birthed at Shady Grove: We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise, Lord of Glory, Make My Life an Offering, Commune with Me, Jesus You are my Great Love, and Cover Me, to name a few. Remember Paula Clark playing her violin with such beauty and intimacy with God over someone and they would be healed? I remember Gary Benjamin coming all the way to Aledo for my sister’s funeral (thank you, Gary, it meant a lot to me and spoke to the unsaved in my family) and his stories about taking Jerri to the drive-in theatre (and driving off with the speaker still attached to the window) and how one of the boys filled his car with the water hose while he slept through a golf game on TV. I remember the first time that Jon Dunn gave a prophetic word; this booming voice from way back in the sanctuary gave a powerful word and I knew that this man would do much in the kingdom. I remember church picnics, Family Night, Proclaim His Presence, great students and teachers and staff at Shady Grove Christian Academy, great fellowship, bodies sprawled across the sanctuary floor while lives were changed forever soaking in a different expression of His Presence, and intimate times with God at the Prayer and Fasting Center, later known as ANHOP. Just because I have not mentioned your name does not mean that you have not impacted my life and spirit either. I have so many pictures emblazoned on my memory of when I would open my eyes and see a sea of worshippers and catch some beautiful expression of loving God. We are forever intertwined in the strongest of bonds because we worshipped and loved God together. And all of us had one goal and heart . . . simply to love and adore our awesome God with all that was within us. We used everything as “expressions of our love” from banners to beautiful dances for our King to mime to marches around the sanctuary to long periods of a holy hush as we were awed into silence. We would linger together after the services because of the bonds that were forged from being in His Presence together. I, for one, have been “ruined” for good by the most awesome and glorious Presence of such a wonderful God! I can never be satisfied with any less!!! I carry each of you in memory in my own worship times!

    I have no chapter and verse for this, but I somehow think that there will come a time in eternity when God will turn to us and request some Shady Grove Church worship! Regardless of whether that is true or not, I am certainly looking forward to being able to worship Jesus in heaven with glorified bodies that never tire and that can hold notes for days and that can dance and sing and preach with new capabilities and we never have to stop and go eat (because Bro. Olen made us all hungry an hour ago with his detailed descriptions of yummy food :o)). Thank you, Bro. Olen, for leading us all into the Presence of God and helping us to remember that everything truly is about Jesus and that if we will simply love and worship Him, everything else will fall into place rather than working ourselves to a frazzle trying to serve Him, thereby missing out on a wonderful personal relationship with the most awesome God! Our hearts and spirits are full and blessed and overflowing because you pointed us and, even better, led us to Jesus!

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