By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Grafton – Zachary Kerzee, 25, is the pastor of Simple Church, an offspring of the former United Methodist Church in Grafton which closed its doors two years ago, allocating funds from the building sale to the “planting” of a new church. Simple Church, a farm-to-table dinner church located at the church parsonage next to the Elvidge farm property at 82 Potter Hill Road, is committed to simplicity, community and service. And, while affiliated with the Methodist Church, Simple Church is open to all, including those who have felt marginalized by traditional religions, with the emphasis on full welcome into the spirit community of Simple Church.
Kerzee, the son of a Methodist minister, grew up in Texas where he studied religion and Greek at McMurry University before moving to New England to attend Harvard Divinity School. He received his Masters of Divinity in May and moved to Grafton in July to start Simple Church. Joining him was his wife, Kendra, a Spanish teacher in Acton, their retired sled dog, Skunk, and eight laying hens.
Simple Church meets at Kerzee’s home. It is a church without walls. On purpose.
“So many churches have trouble even keeping the heat turned on – and I can’t think of a single church that hasn’t had to do a capital campaign just to maintain their church building,” Kerzee said. “So I decided that Simple Church was going to run as fast as we could in the other direction. When I looked at the example and ministry of Jesus, I didn’t see him building large, creaky church buildings. Instead, he walked from place to place and met people where they were. By not having a building we free ourselves to focus on relationships and live unencumbered lives devoted to service and connection.”
At Simple Church, visitors are asked to bring their faith, their doubts and an appetite for something bigger than themselves. Worship includes preparing food together within a liturgical context full of prayers, a candle-lighting ceremony, and a blessing for the food followed by a meal and a small sermon meant to stir discussion. Attendees sing folk songs that can be sung without song books or print-outs.
“We try and make zero waste – which means we don’t have printed bulletins and we use glassware and cloth napkins. All food scraps are composted. We sing simple songs – often African American spirituals or songs that I write myself,” shared Kerzee.
Kerzee sees Simple Church as an opportunity to live a life committed to simplicity following the patient example of Jesus. No steeple and no pews. Just a table and a passion to connect to people.
Simple Church began meeting in September and has recently outgrown its space at Kerzee’s home. In order to accommodate the growing numbers, the church has begun meeting in the fellowship hall of the Congregational Church, 30 Grafton Common. Additionally, a second night of dinner worship has been added. Thursday night dinner worship will meet at 7 p.m. and the Friday night group at 5 p.m. to accommodate families with small children.
Starting next month Simple Church will be incorporating a monthly service project, participating in an all-ages mission.
Simple Church is made up of folks of all ages, all backgrounds and all orientations. Interested in coming for a visit? They’ll set a place for you.
For more information on Simple Church, go to www.simpleumc.com or facebook.com/simpleumc on Facebook.
For a description of a typical worship service, visit http://www.simpleumc.com/frequently-asked-questions.html.