"This is CHURCH!?" – Geoff & Kelly Marton

“Are they always this happy and welcoming, or was there a memo that new people were going to be here today?” That was Kelly and Geoff Marton’s first question about Access Church before they even got to the auditorium for their first service. Once the music started, their second question became, “This is CHURCH!?”

20160717_130312_1468775060746Although she grew up attending church, Kelly didn’t consider herself a “church person” anymore. But the Martons knew they wanted “something spiritual” for themselves and for Declan, their 2-year-old son. “I wanted God and community, not fire and brimstone,” Kelly said. On the advice of a friend and after a little online research, Kelly and Geoff decided to give Access a try. From pulling into the parking lot and interacting with the Guest Services volunteer (a fellow Steelers fan who commented on their Steelers-decorated Jeep), to the 80s rock music played by the fantastic band (Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer), they felt like they had found a good fit right away.

And Waumba Land was a great fit for Declan. “Not only did Waumba Land offer us the opportunity to actually absorb what was going on in the service, not to mention giving us a mini-date, we knew Declan would enjoy himself, too,” Kelly said. “It was amazing when I asked him what he learned about that day, and he responded, ‘Jesus loves everyone!’”

When Kelly and Geoff heard a Starting Point group was forming, they decided to join. “Starting Point was exactly what we were looking for – a place where we could ask questions with no judgment,” Kelly said. “Both of us were skeptical, but hopeful. We asked a lot of questions and met some really great people who were open to where we were on our faith journey.”

Based on their experience in Starting Point, joining a Community Group seemed like a natural next step for the Martons. Kelly and Geoff attended GroupLink last January and have been a part of a Community Group for six months now. “Being in a Community Group has been exactly what we hoped for the day we nervously drove up to the front of the church,” Kelly said. “There is absolutely no way we could have dreamed this situation would play out how it has when we made the decision to put our toes in a year ago. The people in our Community Group have become our friends, the people we trust, and the people we are ready to be there for no matter what they need.”

Kelly and Geoff’s experience is exactly what we hope for everyone who pulls into the Access Church parking lot. At Access, the “memo” the Martons wondered about during their first visit is written into our mission. We want to be a church that unchurched people or those who “aren’t church people anymore” love to attend. At Access, you can belong first, no matter where you are with what you believe. We want “This is CHURCH?!” to become “This is home.”

If you’re ready to take the next step in your journey by jumping into community, now is the perfect time! Our next GroupLink events are happening August 21 (St. Johns) and 28 (Duval/Clay), and a new Starting Point group kicks off September 18. Visit our Adults page to learn more and to register online.