This past weekend Pastor Jim Custer was honored for his decades of ministry and widespread impact in the Central Ohio area. Assist Church Expansion, a national ministry of the Charis Fellowship with a mission to empower churches for healthy expansion, hosted the banquet at East Side Grace Brethren Church in Blacklick, Ohio.
Jim’s ministry in Central Ohio began in 1968 when he answered the call to become the lead pastor at Grace Polaris Church, known at the time as Grace Brethren Church of Worthington. The church, which was the only Charis Fellowship church in the area, was just four years old.
The church continued to grow and expand with a focus on missions, reaching the lost, and teaching the Scriptures. “The church exploded,” Jim said in a video interview. “The people had a mind to work, they had a vision, they wanted to reach lost friends and neighbors, they were committed to missions in the classic sense of the word…they were committed to family, and they were curious about the Scriptures. It was phenomenal to watch God work in the hearts and lives of people.”
Over a thirty-year period, thirty new churches descended from Grace Polaris Church, both directly and indirectly, in the Central Ohio region. Today, Grace Polaris Church even has great-great-grandchild churches. The church also started Worthington Christian School, which is celebrating their fiftieth anniversary this year.
All of this took place under the leadership of Pastor Jim Custer, who served as lead pastor for more than four decades. Since retiring in the late 2000s, Jim has remained on staff at Grace Polaris Church as a teaching pastor and has continued to lead Bible studies, Sunday morning groups, and classes.
In addition to his preaching and teaching at Grace, Jim led Right Start Ministries for fifty years, broadcasting his messages in a daily program and helping produce study materials. He also has traveled to Israel more than 30 times leading tours of the Holy Land.
During the banquet, two people shared how Jim had impacted their life and ministry. Rick Nuzum, who was on staff at Grace Polaris Church in the early days, shared how Jim encouraged him to start an Adult Bible Fellowship for young adults, which eventually grew into its own church plant. Ron Boehm shared a few Bible verses and talked about Jim’s humility and willingness to follow the Lord’s leading. Both men spoke of Jim’s mentorship, guidance, and friendship over the years.
Jim spoke briefly, sharing stories of how God used faithful proclamation of the Word to win people to the Church. “If you want to catch fish, use live bait,” Jim said. “That has been a motto in my life.”
Philip Bryant, director of church mobilization at Assist, presented Jim with a small foot washing statue and led the group in a time of prayer and thanksgiving for Jim and his family.
See more about Grace Polaris Church’s history in a video here. Learn more about Assist Church Expansion here.