Chris Grigson is used to working side jobs and being a pastor at the same time.
His hiring as the senior pastor of Valley Christian Church in downtown Ceres as of Aug. 1 allows him to break that practice and focus on being a full-time pastor for the first time.
"I have always had to work," said Grigson. "This is actually my first full-time position, as far as pay. But I have always worked probably 30 to 40 hours a week at the church and then I worked my other jobs. I did whatever I could do to be flexible to work at the church."
Grigson, 52, replaces Pastor Paul Wilson who retired at age 78 on July 31.
"My big plans are to reach the community," said the new pastor. "I just want to let this community know we're here and we're here to help. A lot of people don't even know we're here. Our real goal is to be a blessing to the community. We give food to them and we want to give them a place to grow spiritually as well."
A native of Midland, Texas, Chris grew up in the church - his mother was a missionary - and he was always willing to jump in wherever help was needed in the church. But he admits that for a while he wasn't serious about his Christian walk.
"I was brought up in the church and I tried to do my own thing for a while and when I came back it was right after my Dad died in 1981," said Grigson. "It kind of made my think about things. I was living fairly recklessly, not really paying attention to my Christian life. So that really made me evaluate things so I started going forward. After 1981 I really started living for the Lord, then I was volunteering more at the church."
Grigson grew up in the Bay area and entered the ministry in 1990 while working in sales and as a coach. He had various stints as a varsity coach in baseball, volleyball, basketball and track in the Bay Area and the Valley as he studied at Bethany Bible College, an Assembly of God college in Santa Cruz. Once he had his degree and was ordained, Grigson took over a Modesto church's junior high department in 1994 as he coached at Modesto Christian and at Calvary Temple when they had a school.
"I've done just about every department in church. I was in charge of sound for a while. I did the janitorial. I was willing, when I was working full-time outside the church, to do whatever. So I've learned all the elements of the church."
Grigson most recently spent five years as senior pastor at Calvary Worship Center in San Andreas.
Pastor Grigson said church attendance at Valley Christian is running about 60 to 70 at the Sunday morning worship service, which is higher than the church membership of about 48.
Wife Sue Grigson is the church's worship leader during the 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday worship services.
Grigson started back up the youth group, which meets at 6 p.m. on Thursdays, and 13 showed up the first night. His daughter, Claire Grigson, 21, is heading up the youth ministry as she works on her pastoral degree. The pastor comes in to give a 15-minute message.
"She's getting ready to go to the Philippines on a mission trip but she's my acting youth leader."
She's also his church's IT person.
One of the church's biggest ministries for the community is the Loaves of Love food distribution. Five days a week the church hands out free food, baked goods and produce from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays at the church's Family Center, 2745 Second Street.
"This is a ministry they have been doing quite a while. It's just out of the heart of the church."
"They hired me for my wife and daughter and just kind of tolerate me," said Chris, laughing. "I say that complimentary because I'm really a big fan of my wife and daughter. They do so much."
Children's ministry is offered Sunday morning as well as Wednesday evenings.
Grigson said he is interested in becoming part of the Ceres Police Department chaplaincy program.
For more information, contact the church at 537-5707.