Dominion Grace Church teaches that we are ALL ministers of the Gospel and we are called to “go out and make disciples”. There is no hierarchy here! What an oasis of spiritual refreshment right in the heart of Schenectady, NY. Currently meeting at the chapel in the City Mission of Schenectady, this body of believers is not striving, but LIVING according to who we are in Christ Jesus. Joe Funaro functions as a pastor here, along with his wife Elsa. They encourage all who enter to walk in the full power and authority given to ALL believers, helping them fulfill the calling on their lives. Joe and Elsa have been in ministry together for decades and have planted churches in Colorado, Sydney (Australia), and have assisted with the growth of countless churches all around the world. Missionaries to the West Indies, the Caribbean, South America and Africa, they now find their mission field here in the Capital Region.
As we entered, Elsa greeted me by name. How welcoming! She immediately brought me to meet her husband Joe. As I spoke with him, I sensed that he had a message from God that was going to greatly impact those present. I addressed him as “Pastor Joe”, but he quickly responded, “call me Joe”. This told me a lot about the character of this man. The service began with prayer and worship, with the final worship song being, “God of this City”. This is the cry of the people here. Joe then made a few quick announcements and they took up a free will offering. They believe in cheerful giving according to the teachings of Paul in the New Testament.
His message was based on the book of Ephesians, which is the capstone of scripture. It is here that Paul explains the dispensation of grace to Jews and gentiles alike. Everything comes by the way of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:4 tells us that “Christ is the end of the law”. In Christ we no longer have to strive to be blessed … we ARE blessed. We no longer need to strive to be holy … we ARE holy! He tells us to “BE” holy, not to “BECOME” holy. We are ALREADY like Him. We need not focus on sin because God is showing us who we are IN CHRIST. We can rest in the finished work of the cross. In the parable of the prodigal son, he returned to his father and his position in the family NEVER changed. This is exactly how our Father responds to us … His Sons and Daughters.
Joe then talked about UNITY, stating that he hates politics and religion because they divide. God’s plan is UNITY for the Body of Christ. Each one should teach as they believe, but there is no reason to be critical. Doctrines may differ, but Christ is the head. We shouldn’t let doctrines divide us. There is ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism (Ephesians 4:5). We need to love each other without conditions, just as Christ loves us. Sharing about the 5-fold ministry, Joe explained that they are functions of the Body, not titles. We are anointed and appointed to walk the Earth just as Jesus did. Our Spirit mind needs to dominate the natural mind.
At this point, I had to lay my pen down. I didn’t want to miss a word. Even still, I had to watch the live Facebook feed later that evening. Something came alive in me and I needed to listen to this message again. The old mindset of what church is supposed to be needs to change. It’s time to lay our traditions and our systems down. It’s time to stop criticizing each other and focus on sharing the GOOD NEWS of Christ. This is not about our love for Christ … it’s ALL about Christ’s love for US!
After the service, Joe asked if there were any questions. The services here are centered on the people and discussion of the scriptures is highly encouraged. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. This is what I witnessed today. Not “church as usual”, but church as it should be. I honestly did not leave the same way I came in. There’s so much more to share, but how can one accurately express in words the revelation God gives?
I highly recommend you visit Dominion Grace Church. I can also point you to their facebook page where they live stream their services. I can also tell you about the Bible School offered on their website. I could tell you about all of the wonderful things Joe and Elsa have done for the Kingdom. But I think Joe would rather have me tell you to dig into the WORD OF GOD and look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and to walk in the fullness of who He has called you to be.
By Donna Hansen Munafo