Church Planting Profile: Grace Church, Edgeworth
Pastor: The Rev. Chance Perdue
TM: How long have you been a part of the Diocese?
CP: 6 years
TM: Tell us about the Edgeworth area & how it informs the formation of your church.
CP: Edgeworth is mostly residential and it’s right next to Sewickley - if I’m in the car it takes about two minutes to go from the church to the village. You see the same people all the time - at the grocery store, at the Y, getting coffee - and that lends itself to a really relaxed and highly relational way of life. I’ve been heavily influenced by writers like Eugene Peterson, so pastorally the context is pretty dreamy, really. It’s being a village priest in, literally, a village setting. But we’re also really close to Ambridge, so there’s a close tie with the seminary, a number of our folks live in Ambridge, and there’s a lot more poverty and need in that community than in a place like Edgeworth or Sewickley. So the demographics are kind of all over the place - and because of that, we’ll never want for an idyllic setting for life and worship, AND we’ll also never want for ways to serve those in need. The harvest is plentiful.
TM: Why did you want to plant a church? How were you called to your church plant?
CP: Grace Church, Edgeworth is a unique place, specifically in terms of being a plant. The parish was an extension of Grace Church, Mt. Washington until last Spring - so the congregation has been worshipping here in our beautiful chapel for years, sharing Fr. John Porter with the folks at Mt. Washington. After the two congregations “un-yoked” last year, I was called to be the first full-time rector of Grace Church, Edgeworth and I started work in September. I have to confess that I’d been secretly following Grace Edgeworth on the internet for years, having only ever said anything about it to my wife. Then last Spring I was at lunch with Bishop Jim & Mama Shari and he mentioned it to me as a possibility. I was so surprised I think I might’ve choked on my drink.
As Bishop Jim started to talk to me about Edgeworth, and all the potential he saw for this place to become a deeply rooted “neighborhood” church, I realized that this was much more than a possible opportunity to minister in a very quaint, idyllic, quintessentially Anglican church (which it is) - I realized that my bishop knows me and knows the sort of ministry I’m suited for. The gratitude was matched only by the excitement at that point.
TM: How is it going with your church? What has been good lately? What is a struggle?
CP: Things are going well. Many of our parishioners don’t live in Edgeworth, so there’s an eagerness to welcome newcomers and to dig deeper into the neighborhood. We put on a traditional Festival of Lessons & Carols in December and advertised it as a gift to the neighborhood. The turnout ended up being even more than an average Sunday! I think our challenge, moving forward, will simply be patience and listening to the folks around us in order to continue welcoming neighbors into our midst in as many ways as we can. The people of Grace Church are so warm and loving - a pretty tight-knit family. But our folks are also really hospitable - you’d have to try pretty hard to visit on a Sunday without a bunch people shaking your hand and taking a genuine interest in your story. That’s in the DNA of this parish, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to build on that kind of foundation.
TM: What are you learning through being a church planter? About yourself? About ministry? About God?
CP: I’m always relearning the same lesson over and over again: God is faithful. That faithfulness might not look like it did last time or the time before that, it might not show up within your timetable, but it’s always present. You’d think I’d have figured this out by now...
TM: How can the rest of the Diocese support you? Pray for you?
CP: Please pray for us, that we might continue to grow in listening to our neighborhood, in our ministry of hospitality, remaining faithful to the preaching of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament.