After decades of ministry in a large, barnlike building in Leiper’s Fork, Grace Chapel is preparing to expand its church beyond the Franklin area and into Fairview.
Ian Gilchrist, who has served as the church’s youth leader for about 10 years, will become the head pastor at Grace Chapel Fairview. He said the Leiper’s Fork location already has about 900 members commuting from Fairview, so holding services closer to that community made sense for the first step of expansion.
“The church was kind of reaching a point of, ‘Do we build bigger or start reaching out in a different direction?’ And our pastor just kind of made this call … and just said, ‘Hey, instead of making our main campus bigger, let’s start reaching out into other communities,’” Gilchrist said.
“So, we really looked at the map and looked at where people were coming from and the flow in and out of the church, and Fairview kept dinging on our radar.”
He said there were several children in Fairview who wanted to get involved in the church throughout the week and had issues with transportation, so the church began a bus service a while back to bring kids to the Franklin campus on Wednesday nights, which opened opportunities for youth groups, women’s ministry and Bible studies.
Derek Brown, the church’s communications director, explained that the Fairview community greatly benefited the church, so planting a branch closer to Fairview is one way of giving back.
“Fairview brought so much life to our church, whether it’s kids through the bus ministry or women through the women’s ministry, Bible studies,” Brown said. “It’s a natural thing to say they’ve invested so much in us, it’s now time. Let’s go to them.”
The church will meet at Fairview Middle School for Sunday services. Office space by the Fairview Sonic has also been procured to occupy throughout the week.
Gilchrist said that while Fairview isn’t too far from Franklin, it’s just far enough that it may reach farther than the Leiper’s Fork location could, and it shortens the commute for existing members from Fairview. Brown added that the city is also less church-saturated than Franklin and Nashville, so opening up a location there brings opportunities to reach those who are not attending a church.
Gilchrist said the core mission of Grace Chapel will remain the same with this new branch, but the leadership will seek to provide for the unique needs of the Fairview community.
“We’re committed to our mission to equip people to be passionate servants of Jesus, and we’re going to do it through passionate teaching, vibrant worship and really uncompromising commitment to community,” Gilchrist said.
“We want to be about people, so small groups, small communities, small gatherings are a way to have a small church with a lot of people.”
Gilchrist and Brown said they became believers during their time at Grace Chapel, so, in their church leadership, they’re seeking to continue to foster the community and qualities that brought them to God.
Grace Chapel Fairview’s first Sunday service is slated for 9 a.m. Aug. 11 at Fairview Middle School. Gilchrist said they are considering a second service at 11 a.m. if needed.
The church will also host a summer picnic from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 20 at Bowie Park to meet members of the community, hear their stories and share their own.