She said Graham “always keeps his door open,” whether someone needs advice or simply wants to talk with him. “He has been there for so many individuals that are struggling with tough decisions, loss of a loved one, or just needs reassurance,” she added.
GCC member Walter Flinn, who was on the committee that brought Graham to the church, agreed with Allen and said Graham leads with “caring and skill.” “As our spiritual leader, he stands by us in all our ups and downs,” said Flynn, who noted Graham has also helped GCC usher in a period of substantial operational growth.
During the past 20 years, GCC has remodeled its physical structure, which includes the addition of Gilford Youth Center, and expanded its community-based programs and services. “We’ve also achieved dramatic growth in the contributions made by the congregation in time and money supporting outreach,” said Flinn.
This outreach has included financial contributions to dozens of area nonprofits. This past year, GCC has supported the New Hampshire Food Bank, Belknap House, New Beginnings, Farnum Center, Lakes Region Mental Health Center, Stand Up Laconia, American Baptist Church of NH and VT, Camp Resilience, and numerous others. “Each month, church volunteers serve meals at the Salvation Army Friendly Kitchen and Isaiah 61 Café and also 50 plus meals each week under our Senior Mobile Meals Program,” explained Allen.
For Graham, though, his gratitude extends to the congregation and larger community, as he cited feeling “so lucky” to have been invited to serve both. “I so appreciate that this community has allowed me to grow and evolve in my understanding of faith and life,” he said. “ I think for the foreseeable future that our focus will be on serving as a voice that brings people together, welcoming diversity of thought, and demonstrating a commitment to model a capacious way of living."
This way of living, according to Allen, is an invitation to all. “Visit our website for a livestream of our service or attend our Sunday Service,” she said. “While here, you will enjoy beautiful music, interesting sermons, and hands of friendship along with coffee and food downstairs afterwards in our Fellowship Hall.”
Located in Gilford, NH, GCC is an inclusive, open community with a broadly ecumenical spirit that welcomes people from all denominational and cultural backgrounds. Viewable live on YouTube, services take place at 10 a.m. on Sundays at 19 Potter Hill Rd., Gilford, NH.