Grace Foothills Church settles into new facility

Published 12:12 pm Monday, March 25, 2024

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After 16 years of meeting at the Tryon Theatre, Grace Foothills Church began meeting at Tryon Seventh-day Adventist Church on March 4. This change will allow the church space to grow and add additional programs such as a nursery, Sunday School and after-church fellowship dinners and meetings.  

The church is grateful to the Tryon Theatre’s current owners, Gayle and Scott Lane, as well as Evan Fitch and the previous owner, Barry Flood, who have graciously provided a home for Grace Foothills for the past 16 years.  

Grace Foothills grew out of a core group of people who love their communities of Tryon, Columbus, Saluda, Landrum, Green Creek, Mill Spring and everywhere in between. These folks were all attending a church up the mountain in the South Asheville area called Grace Community Church of the Presbyterian Church in America denomination. They desired to plant a church like Grace Community in their region. In 2006, the leadership of Grace Community Church responded to this desire by sending one of their elders, John Morris, down each Sunday night to lead a Bible study.

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In May 2007, Rev. Scott Stewart was hired by Grace to pastor this new congregation in Polk County. Soon after Stewart arrived, the core group began regular worship services in the home of Jeff and Helen Byrd, and by March of 2008, the church officially began public worship in The Tryon Theatre.  

The church had been leasing a Community Space at 25 South Trade Street, which allowed many of the church’s functions, such as Sunday School, youth group, meetings, dinners, and community events, to take place. The church nursery was also housed in this building, which was three doors down from the theater.  

In July 2023, the Trade Street building was purchased, and Grace Foothills ceased to use it. While looking for a new space, the church came together to find creative ways to hold gatherings in homes, libraries, restaurants, coffee shops and occasionally the Tryon Depot.  

This will not be the first time that Grace Foothills has worshiped at the Seventh-day Adventist Church building. In 2017, when the Lanes were renovating the theater, the church met there for several months. As Seventh-day Adventists observe their sabbath on Saturdays, their sanctuary is available on Sundays. They have graciously offered Grace Foothills a lease on their space for Sundays.

Grace Foothills has been pastored and shepherded well by interim pastor Rusty Harper for the last year. He served as the pastor of Fairview Christian Fellowship for over 27 years before attempting to retire last year. He began at Grace Foothills the following Sunday. Rusty has brought solid biblical teaching, experienced leadership, wisdom and continuity to the young congregation. Now that Grace has a settled meeting place, they will begin the process of searching for a new pastor with Rusty’s help.

On Easter Sunday, weather permitting, Grace will continue its long-held tradition of hosting an outdoor service at Roger’s Park. The church welcomes the community to join them for this special service and for future services at the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Services are every Sunday at 10 a.m.

Grace Foothills will still be on the lookout for a permanent space in the future but is thankful to be settled in the heart of this community with plenty of room to grow. It is a Presbyterian Church in America congregation. 

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Submitted by Kimberly Gage