“Are they always this happy and welcoming, or was there a memo that new people were going to be here today?” That was Kelly and Geoff Marton’s first question about Access Church before they even got to the auditorium for their first service. Once the music started, their second question became, “This is CHURCH!?”
Although she grew up attending church, Kelly didn’t consider herself a “church person” anymore. But the Martons knew they wanted “something spiritual” for themselves and for Declan, their 2-year-old son. “I wanted God and community, not fire and brimstone,” Kelly said. On the advice of a friend and after a little online research, Kelly and Geoff decided to give Access a try. From pulling into the parking lot and interacting with the Guest Services volunteer (a fellow Steelers fan who commented on their Steelers-decorated Jeep), to the 80s rock music played by the fantastic band (Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer), they felt like they had found a good fit right away.… Read the restPosted July 18, 2016
If you love Access Church and have extraordinary administrative gifts, we’ve got some great news! We’re looking for a ministry assistant! This part-time person will handle administrative tasks such as scheduling, preparing reports, maintaining our database, processing income and expenses, and more. Currently this position is budgeted at 12 hours per week (ideally Monday-Thursday, 8:00-11:00am). An office with a computer and a phone will be provided.
The planning and prayers of a few became the call to action for many at Access Church April 8 and 9. A team of women from Access Church hosted the second annual, two-day IF:Jacksonville gathering. The original IF:Gathering took place in February in Austin, Texas, but that event is capped at 2,200 women in order to encourage groups to meet in their own communities and places of influence. IF:Jacksonville included the speakers from the Austin event, but the Access team molded the event into something that would be relevant for the Jacksonville area.
The IF:Gathering theme this year was, “What if we lived like Jesus?” Stephanie Barrett, one of the IF:Jacksonville organizers, said the event began to take shape when they asked the more specific questions, “What does it look like to live like Jesus in our area? What does it mean to be the hands and feet of Jesus here in Jacksonville?”
Stephanie shared that there are so many ways to share Jesus’ love with a broken world, but the team felt it was important to follow the call of Jesus to care for “the least of these.” In Matthew 25:40 Jesus tells his followers that caring for the broken and helpless of society is the same as caring for him, so the women of Access made it their mission to show Jesus’ love to children in foster care and awaiting adoption right here in Jacksonville.… Read the restPosted June 6, 2016
You may have seen David and Jolene Mathew, and their eight-year-old son, Judah, around Access Church. Seeing them, you may never guess that they actually have 40 children under their care! This story begins in India, where David was born and raised. David’s family still lives in India, and he returns to visit them when he is able. On one such visit, a little girl asked to clean his motorcycle windshield. She was just another orphan of the 31 million in India, a common sight. David could’ve easily waved her away. But he didn’t. He noticed her hand. It was broken. She told him her “rowdy” (pimp) had broken it because broken children get more when they beg. Just another little girl out of so many, yet precious and uncommon to God. David and the friend with him decided to do something to make a difference for this little girl. Hours later they returned for her, and found her a home, leaving one less child to be trafficked on the streets of India.… Read the restPosted May 18, 2016
If Access Church is a body with arms outstretched toward those disconnected from God, the volunteers are the heart that keeps the body moving. Every week individuals with jobs and families show up to serve and love without expecting anything in return. There are several obvious benefits to serving; Friendships are born and nurtured, there is an opportunity to see growth in others, and it feels great to be part of something bigger than oneself. But often volunteering requires real sacrifice. The leaders of Access decided to spend an evening recognizing these sacrifices and thanking the volunteers for giving their time and hearts to the people who attend Access. This was the impetus for the first-ever Volunteer Appreciation Event on February 20, 2016.
The event was held at the Jacksonville Craig Airport inside a hanger decked out for fun and relaxation. Krystal Martz was the point person organizing the night. With a background in non-profits and event planning, Krystal helped design a night to honor volunteers with a lovely dinner, band, photographer, and program.… Read the restPosted April 15, 2016
On Easter we took up an offering for the first time in several months to give it all away. Foster Closet is a fantastic organization in town and does a great job passionately advocating for the foster children of Northeast Florida.
Baptism is one of our favorite things to do around here because it’s a tangible example of the life change happening here at Access Church. If you’re ready to take this step, start here.
All of you who partner with us by serving and giving, you make these kinds of stories possible.
Sarah Graves and her husband, Lawton, have been an active part of Access Church since 2010. Since their move to Jacksonville, they have added three beautiful girls to their family. Sarah was the preschool director at a church in Tallahassee before moving to Jacksonville. She quickly jumped into Strategic Service at Access in Waumba Land and later joined the Access staff as Waumba Land Director. This was a perfect fit when their
family was small, but as time passed and their family grew, Sunday mornings became more complicated. With three little ones in Waumba Land competing for her attention, balancing the roles of mom and director caused her to seek out other possibilities for serving. “I was willing to fill any position just to be part of the Access team,” Sarah said.
When she was asked to move to Student Ministry, Sarah was nervous but excited. Her own journey with Christ started during her teenage years, so she knew this was a vital time spiritually in the lives of students.… Read the restPosted March 31, 2016
Last Sunday, Rich spoke about how powerful it can be to invite someone to join you at church. To conclude the message, we shared the stories of several families whose direction has been changed because someone invited them to Access Church. You can be part of someone’s story too. Invite them to spend #EasterWithUs!… Read the rest Posted March 24, 2016
“We love others because Christ loved us first.” These are the words we use to explain why we pursue God-sized dreams. In theory, many of the things we do throughout this life sound noble. But the reality is that lessons in faith, patience, and perseverance are attached to the journey. Three years ago, Chad and Rebecca Roerink said “YES” to God as they began the domestic adoption process with a home study and an expectant heart. As they waited for a placement, they did respite care for a three-year-old child. It was a good experience, and it opened their eyes to the broken and beautiful world of foster care.
Anyone who has been part of the adoption process knows that waiting is the most difficult part. It is easy to lose focus and wonder if it will ever actually happen. This was this heaviness that weighed on Rebecca’s heart on December 1, 2015. As she read through her Bible study online, her leader, Stephanie Barrett, asked a simple question of the group.… Read the restPosted March 15, 2016
As the gurney glides down the hospital hallway, the fluorescent lights lining the ceiling are the only visual. In this moment, every ounce of independence that has been built is called in to question. Feelings of fear and loss of control become the leading actors in this scenario. Many individuals can relate to the reality of an emergency-room visit or hospital stay. We are required to put our health and wellbeing into the hands of others. We must depend on help for our most basic needs. It can be unsettling, but it can also be a wonderful opportunity to see God’s truth that we were NEVER meant to do life alone.
Michele Whetstone knows this story well because this has been her life for the past few weeks. November 23, 2015, marked the day she was forced to relent to the fact that her body was sick and she was entering a fight for her life. She credits her phenomenal healthcare providers with diagnosing her Bacterial Meningitis and helping to heal her body, but she also includes her loved ones and her Access Community Group members in her list of “lifesavers.”
Michele has been attending Access Church for three years.… Read the restPosted January 13, 2016
For Ronda McPherson, the path to her volunteer role as a children’s small-group leader is a humorous one. It began with a Strategic Service sign-up card and an assumption that proved to be slightly off.
Ronda enjoys a fulfilling career in a successful company, but after attending Access for several months, she longed for a way to plug into serving at Access. Ronda got her chance during a sign-up event for Strategic Service opportunities. As she perused the options, one entitled “Leadership Room” stood out to her. Ronda was confident in her management skills and felt that something with “leadership” in the title would probably be a good fit. However, Ronda was unaware that this area of service pertained to children’s ministry. Ronda’s role would be to set up the Leadership Room before Waumba Land and check in children as they arrived.
Imagine Ronda’s surprise when she showed up for her first weekend and found out she had signed up for something she did not feel equipped to do.… Read the restPosted January 6, 2016
Culture seems to keep our hearts busy with things that lack eternal focus, even during the holidays. If we don’t pay attention, we’ll miss opportunities to share the incredible and life-changing gift of a relationship with Jesus.
Mike and Fern Aspen have been part of Access Church since moving to Florida from Minnesota in the fall of 2014. Their marriage of 39 years is full of excitement and adventure. Fern is a professor of nursing, but previously worked for many years as a Certified Nurse Midwife and has about 1,000 births under her belt. Mike is a retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot and worked for Canadian Pacific Railway. Mike and Fern have a son and three granddaughters, and they are currently sponsoring 11—yes, that’s right, 11 international children through Compassion International and World Vision.
When Mike and Fern arrived in Florida, they looked for a church with the same vision and passion as their previous church. They wanted a fun environment with great worship for kids and adults.… Read the restPosted December 15, 2015
Access Church is 100% locally-funded, and we are so grateful for your generosity! Many of you have told us in the past few weeks that you have felt compelled to develop a plan for supporting the church you love. Thank you!
As we approach the end of the year, please note that checks must be dated and postmarked on or before Thursday, December 31, 2015, for them to apply to 2015 tax returns. If you wish to hand deliver your gift, it must be received in our offices no later than Thursday, December 31.
Please note: Church services will not be held Sunday, December 27, so the last opportunity to give in person for the year will be Sunday, December 20. All contributions received on Sunday, January 3, 2016, even if dated 2015, will apply to 2016 tax returns.
There are lots of ways to give to Access Church. As a family, develop a plan to give first, save second, and live on the rest.… Read the restPosted December 10, 2015