- Faith & Family
Jesus is known by many as the very definition of love. Many would describe him as considerate, humble, approachable, welcoming and understanding. He is also known to be the ultimate example of perfection. Someone that those who are Christian, can’t help but to love.
At Grace Church of the First Born of Miami, Inc., their mission is to be like Jesus. The church is described as “a place where the beauty of Jesus is seen, where Jesus is glorified, and all are welcomed.”
“We’re a very warm and welcoming congregation,” Rev. Gary Hoffenden, the pastor of the church and overseer of the three branches of the church, said. “There’s a strong family atmosphere present and we pride ourselves in that.”
The church is also known for its very pronounced Jamaican culture because service is conducted with a Jamaican dialect and a majority of the members are Jamaican.
But one of the church’s top priorities is expanding and becoming more multicultural.
“It’s important to hold on to our culture and a sense of where we’re from, but without allowing that to deter anyone who wants to come in,” Hoffenden said.
It’s important that people feel welcomed because it reflects who Jesus was, he said.
“Children came to him, those who were in need came to him, those who felt that they were outcasts came to him,” Hoffenden said. “And he embraced them.”
Everyone in the church is treated with the same genuine love.
“People will come in and not know that I am the pastor unless I’m introduced because I’m usually with everybody,” he said.
Growing in God’s Will
Although Hoffenden would like to see the church grow, he understands that if only five members joining the congregation is enough if that is “what God wanted.”
The church has also been focusing on developing individuals.
“We’re really encouraging our brethren to come out, pray and study,” Hoffenden said. “There’s a strong emphasis this year because the church is God’s work and the only time you can effectively minister God’s work is through prayer and studying.”
Hoffenden believes that as a pastor it is challenging not to bring earthy standards into the church and get caught up in programs and methods.
“God doesn’t anoint programs or methods, he anoints people,” he said “And people get developed in God’s ministry by praying and studying of the word.”
By Malika A. Wright