State of Faith: Pastor says ‘God’s chosen us’ to create new church

Pastor Keitric Emory of Flossmoor is serving as the first pastor of the newly organized Abundant Grace United Church of Christ at 18200 Dixie Highway in Homewood.

Emory had served as an associate pastor at Covenant Church of Christ for 10 years before being named pastor of Faith United Protestant Church in Park Forest. He served for about a year, and then in January 2023, Faith United and St. Paul Community Church in Homewood began organizing as Abundant Grace Church, and Pastor Emory was asked to serve as its pastor.

He admits it’s been a whirlwind experience organizing a church in six short months, but he is excited by what is ahead for Abundant Grace Church of Christ.

Can you tell me about your faith journey?
“I was first introduced to church by my grandmother in the South, but you’re just a kid so you’re just part of the scenery. I wasn’t really dialed in. When I came back up here, my older sister had got me baptized…but I still wasn’t connected. It was kind of sporadic. I didn’t really dial in until my late 20s. That’s when I was in church one day, and I realized that they were doing something that I wasn’t connected with and I wanted that. I remember saying “I want that.” I see something going on, I’m not dialing in to what’s happening here, I want that and that starts the whole process. Here I am now…that wasn’t part of the life plan, but here we are.”

Keitric Emory

You’re a pastor of a newly formed church. What struggles did your membership overcome to organize as this new faith community?
I think the biggest struggle is knowing that they are one. You’re taking two congregations that were similar but still different and you’re bringing them together. They’ve done a very good job of blending, but that’s still a struggle because you’re bringing your old thoughts, ideas, energies and also when Faith sold its building, we had time to grieve a bit but then had to figure out where to worship and what are we doing and so the search for a building and now you’re bringing that energy with you.

We’re framing it as kind of like when you get married. I’m bringing my history, my family dynamics, how I view family and your partner does the same. That’s kind of where we are now. Trying to make it make sense. It’s not them it’s us. We need to use the language ‘us’. That’s probably the first hurdle is language together which we’ve been successful at to some degree, but there’s still more hurdles there …

I think it’s also an opportunity for me to lift up the fact that our buildings are structures (and) are not more important than the God we serve. We need to evaluate what we’re doing. The blessing is more important. We always have to make sure it’s always what God gave us. It’s always God, and it’s our opportunity to learn and grow and that’s the beauty in all that.

What hopes do you have for your new faith community?
It’s beyond imaginable, the possibilities. We came and they’re here and it’s solid. Someone named it, someone built the building, someone gave the pews, all of it. And God is saying ‘I’m choosing you to create something all over again.’ We can do whatever we want. Whatever we imagine is possible, God’s chosen us. And knowing that what gets created today isn’t really for us, it’s for people we don’t know and we don’t see, but we’re part of it. That’s what’s great about it. I always think about.

When I first got into my faith I started realizing there were people I didn’t know. I started realizing I’m living off of their hopes and their dreams. I’m the recipient. I’m the benefactor. I’m standing in the space partaking in something they helped create and now I’m benefitting from it. I never met them before in my life. I felt privileged to do that, and I say now we get to do that for other folk. The people who sign the charter, 10 years from now may not be here, but they did this for me.

So that’s the hope of God choosing us to build something here. What God has chosen to build, he’s chosen us to do it, so sky’s the limit.

Note: The State of Faith series is supported by a Homewood Rotary Foundation grant.

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