Pastor uses stories to spread Christian message

November 21, 2012 

  • Centerville United Methodist Church

    Address: 600 N. Houston Lake Blvd., Centerville
    Phone: 953-3090
    Leadership: Rev. Stephen B. Grantham, pastor
    Worship: Sunday worship 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., Sunday school 9:15 a.m., children’s programs 5 p.m., youth fellowship 5:30 p.m., Wednesday supper 6 p.m.

CENTERVILLE -- Walk into Centerville United Methodist Church’s sanctuary, and you’ll see high-reaching stained-glass windows telling the story of Christ in 10 scenes.

Walk in during a service, and you’ll likely hear the Rev. Stephen Grantham telling a story.

Grantham believes in stories. He believes stories are an ideal way to communicate a point that touches the heart and hangs in the memory.

“A story is the most fundamental way people learn,” said Grantham, who’s pastored Centerville UMC for eight years. “We tell children stories to teach values and what’s important about living. Jesus was one of the best storytellers the world has ever known. His parables, allegories and metaphors were instrumental in helping us understand the most important aspects of the gospel, such as the parable of the prodigal son and the parable of the talents.”

Grantham noted the Bible is primarily a story rather than a religious list, and it’s the story of God initiating relationship with mankind and seeking to redeem men and women from their faults and failures.

“So I use the same model,” he said. “In our Veterans Day service, we focused on sacrifice. There are plenty of stories on service men and women’s sacrifice, and it makes it easy to see its value. The sermon centered on Hebrews 9:24-28, which tells us Jesus is the ultimate scarified who brought redemption to human beings in the eyes of God. We’re to remember these examples and live our lives faithfully in sacrificial ways to represent him to the world around us.”

Thanksgiving brings stories of thankfulness.

Grantham said Centerville UMC has grown steadily since its founding in 1965 when it first met in Centerville’s fire department. On the other hand, Grantham said Centerville Elementary School used the church’s buildings before its facilities were complete.

Grantham said the church has continued to try to be a servant to the community and its people. He said among its many involvements have been after school enrichment programs, competitive softball teams, host to a variety of support and special interest groups and long-time sponsors of Scouting programs.

There’s even a dulcimer group that meets at the church on Thursdays.

Centerville UMC preschool is an important part of the church’s ministry.

“The preschool continues to be an excellent program,” Grantham said. “It has 65 students with a truly international makeup. We also have a number of special needs students, which is unique among many preschools. The school’s director, Amber Gamble, is former director of special education for Houston County schools and my wife, Sheri, also teaches at the preschool and has taught special education and was a school psychologist. There are four teachers and three assistants in the school.”

Included in its many local services, Grantham said Centerville UMC operates a food pantry and clothes closet. He said the church also emphasizes serving nationally as was evident in numerous teams being sent to help in the wake of Katrina. There are also missions efforts that allow church members to serve abroad.

Grantham is himself the son of a Methodist minister. He and Sheri have two daughters. He came to Centerville UMC in 2004 and has overall served continuously in ministry for 31 years. Growing up, he moved with his parents as they served churches throughout south Georgia and graduated high school in Savannah. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from LaGrange College and Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at

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