Day 2 - A Couple of Artsy Volunteers
Mike and Tia Grass have contributed immense amounts of talent to Fountain Street Church. They work jointly on the Art Committee, and Mike plays a large role within the Hospitality Team! Mike and Tia have been kind enough to share their stories with us through this interview.
How long have you both been volunteering at FSC?
We have been members of Fountain Street Church since the early 1970's. Soon after joining FSC, we realized that our interests and talents needed to be shared. The best way to achieve this was through volunteering.
What got you started?
Our initial volunteer activities were with social groups such as the Couples Group and serving on the Dinners for Eight Organizing Committee. Once we connected socially, other volunteer opportunities opened up to us.
Mike - FSC is a Mecca for art and art endeavors. I volunteered to write a book about Dr. Littlefair, and later wrote and produced a film about Fountain Street’s Social Action Programs. Both projects were used as fundraising tools. I also served in various capacities and was elected to the Governing Board twice.
Tia – I was involved with the Art Committee as both a member and eventually an Officer. I served in a leadership capacity for 12 years, including several terms as Chair.
What do you love about working with the Art Committee/Hospitality Team?
Both the Art Committee and the “Greeters” are forms of ministry at Fountain Street Church. For many, art and art programs are catalysts that enrich people’s spiritual journeys. The Art Committee projects allow us to express our creative needs. Hospitality is a bridge to connect with people in the church and make newcomers feel welcome and old-timers feel embraced and needed.
What is one of your most distinct memories of FSC?
Being in this space is a constant memory. Walking through this place is a gift. Showing others this place is very special. Fountain Street is an amazing building. A special memory is witnessing guests’ reactions to the sanctuary and answering their questions, including, “what kind of church is this?” and “why do you come here?”
Tell us about a current project you are working on!
Fountain Street will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2019. To augment its long history in the community and across Western Michigan, we are in the process of creating a special historical display that will document the church’s many years in Grand Rapids. In addition, the Art Committee is overall responsible for ArtPrize – the world’s largest and most lucrative art competition. 2014 will be FSC’s sixth year as a venue. Indeed, art at Fountain Street is a catalyst for social change.
What are your future goals?
Hospitality is perhaps the most important activity in the church. When new people come to Fountain Street, greeting them in a hospitable way is a memorable experience for them and offers them a reason, among others, to return. A future goal is to help grow the church through its hospitality outreach. Likewise, the tradition of art and art programs is an outreach not only to the congregation but also to the West Michigan community and beyond. Volunteering for four decades has enriched our lives. We feel it is our duty to train a new and younger generation to continue the tradition.
What have you learned from your many years as an FSC volunteer?
Fountain Street, like most churches, is fueled, inspired, and run by volunteers. Volunteering is a form of ministry and outreach – a vital way to connect with people, friends, and strangers alike. It says we care about this place and each other. Truly, volunteering is giving what you need to get. It makes us feel good when we make others feel good.
What advice would you offer for current or future volunteers?
We would say that everyone should find a place and a reason to volunteer. Find your niche. Find a cause. Be dedicated. Stay plugged in. Reach out. Touch someone. Connect. When you touch someone, you validate who and what you are, so volunteer. This is our mission within the church.
Why do you consider yourself a Fountain Streeter?
When people ask us, “why do you come to this place?”, we say “because we are not judged, we have the freedom to doubt or believe, and we like hanging out with like-minded people.” Moreover, Fountain Street validates what we don’t believe. This is an oasis in the midst of a conservative and religious community. So it is a unique place to be. Living within Fountain Street’s integrity is a blessing for us.