GILFORD — Pastor Michael Graham will celebrate 20 years at Gilford Community Church on May 1, an occasion many members have expressed appreciation for.
“I find Michael’s sermons enlightening, especially when he opens his heart to us and tells us about his personal experiences,” said Sue Allen, chair of the GCC board.
She said Graham “always kept her door open” whether someone needed advice or just wanted to talk to her.
“He’s been there for so many people who are dealing with tough decisions, the loss of a loved one, or just need reassurance,” she added.
GCC member Walter Flinn, who was on the committee that brought Graham to church, agreed with Allen and said Graham led with “care and skill”.
“As our spiritual leader, he supports us through all of our ups and downs,” said Flynn, who noted that Graham also helped GCC enter a period of substantial operational growth.
Over the past 20 years, GCC has remodeled its physical structure, which includes the addition of the Gilford Youth Center, and expanded its community programs and services. “We have also achieved dramatic growth in congregational contributions of time and money to support outreach,” Flinn said.
This outreach has included financial contributions to dozens of nonprofit organizations in the region. Last year GCC supported the New Hampshire Food Bank, Belknap House, New Beginnings, Farnum Center, Lakes Region Mental Health Center, Stand Up Laconia, American Baptist Church of NH and VT, Camp Resilience and many more.
“Each month, church volunteers serve meals at the Salvation Army Community Kitchen and Isaiah 61 Cafe, as well as more than 50 meals each week through our Mobile Seniors Meals Program” , explained Allen.
For Graham, however, his gratitude extends to the congregation and the wider community, as he said he felt “so lucky” to have been asked to serve both.
“I so appreciate that this community has allowed me to grow and evolve in my understanding of faith and life,” he said. “I think for the foreseeable future, our goal will be to serve as a voice that brings people together, to welcome diversity of thought, and to demonstrate a commitment to modeling spacious living.”
This way of life, according to Allen, is an invitation to all.
“Visit our website for a live stream of our service or attend our Sunday service,” she said. “During your stay you will enjoy beautiful music, interesting sermons and friendly hands as well as coffee and food downstairs in our fellowship room.”
Located in Gilford, GCC is an inclusive and open community with a broadly ecumenical spirit that welcomes people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds. Viewable live on YouTube, services take place at 10 a.m. on Sundays at 19 Potter Hill Rd., Gilford.