Headfirst – The Guffeys' Story
“Everybody’s Invited,” we say at Access, to come, to connect, and to get involved. Not long after their first visit, Raymond and Jill Guffey jumped in to do just that, headfirst.
Raymond and Jill had heard great things about Access from friends, so they brought their 2-year-old son, Dru, to the “Easter Eggstravaganza” event. “We wanted Dru to have a church to call home, and we wanted a place to grow our own faith so we could nourish his,” Jill said.
Access was completely different from previous churches they had experienced, especially for Raymond, who has Catholic roots. But after a few visits, they knew Access was something they wanted to be a part of. “Right away I loved the music, the practical teaching, and the comfortable atmosphere,” Jill said.
Knowing that community was the key to growing their faith, Raymond and Jill joined a Community Group. “We wanted some time as a couple with other adults, and we wanted to learn more about God,” Jill said. “We kept going back because of the people. We all are in different phases of life, and it’s really neat to learn from each person’s perspective.”
Raymond and Jill saw the impact of community in Dru’s life as well, through Waumba Land. “Dru loves his friends and small-group leaders in Waumba,” Jill said. “We love talking to him about what he learned.”
Besides seeing the value of community, Raymond and Jill also recognized the value of serving. “We knew if we got involved in volunteering, it would help us keep our commitment to go to church each week,” Jill said. “I want to be at church. It’s what I need. But when Sunday morning comes after a long week, it can be hard to get up and go. Knowing I have people counting on me to be there helps get me where I want to be.”
Jill loves kids, so she was a natural fit as an UpStreet small-group leader. On Sundays you’ll find her on the floor surrounded by elementary kids. “I love working with the kids in UpStreet and building relationships with them,” she said. “I love to have fun with them, but I also love reinforcing what they learn in the theater, and I melt when one of them offers to say the closing prayer.”
Raymond became part of the Guest Services team and now serves as a captain. On Sundays you’ll find him out in front of the lobby doors, ready to meet and greet guests, wearing his orange “Everybody’s Invited” t-shirt. “Other people are giving their time to teach and help Dru, so I wanted to give back as well,” he said.
The Guffeys can attest that “Everybody’s Invited” is not just a saying at Access. They are living proof of what can happen when you accept that invitation to get connected and involved. “Access has helped us grow a deeper understanding of God and what it means to be a Christian,” Jill said. “It has helped us stretch ourselves into some uncomfortable places in order to grow in our faith. We are proud to be part of Access and to help make it a safe and comfortable place for others to come and start their journey.”